Friday, October 20, 2017
On this day. Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp
Cuyp was the great interpreter of the Dutch landscape in the Italianate manner. Early landscapes like 'A River Scene with Distant Windmills' are influenced by van Goyen, some of whose paintings show Dordrecht, Cuyp's home town. The work of Utrecht painters, especially Jan Both, who returned from Italy about 1641, helped to turn Cuyp's interest towards large-scale landscapes in the Italianate manner.
Cuyp was the son of the Dordrecht portrait and animal painter, Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp. His occasional portraits, like the 'Portrait of a Bearded Man' in the Collection, reflect his training with his father. Though based in Dordrecht throughout his life, Cuyp travelled widely in Holland, making drawings. In 1658 he married a wealthy widow and appears to have painted little thereafter.
Sunlight in his paintings rakes across the panel, accentuating small bits of detail in the golden light. In large, atmospheric panoramas of the countryside, the highlights on a blade of meadow grass, the mane of a tranquil horse, the horn of a dairy cow reclining by a stream, or the tip of a peasant's hat are all caught in a bath of yellow ocher light. The richly varnished medium refracts the rays of light like a jewel as it dissolves into numerous glazed layers. Cuyp's landscapes were based on reality and on his own invention of what an enchanting landscape should be.