Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Exploring Concepts
Assignment 3 – Landscape
Dutch Landscape Painters
Willem van de Velde (Younger) 1633-1707
Van de Velde was tutored by his father and was commissioned by Charles II of England to create sea fight paintings, so in 1673 he moved to England.  The Duke of York also became his patron along with other English aristocrats.

                                              William Turner Fighting Temeraire ©Bridgeman Library                 


                                                   Willem van de Velde, The Cannon Shot © Bridgeman Library

J M (William)Turner  (1775 – 1851)  has clearly been influenced by Willem van de Velde’s painting of The Cannon Shot illustrated above.  Turner has used the exact view but featured his ‘man of war’ mirror image on the left had side of the painting.  The still water is similar, but the sails have been removed, the horizon level is the same.
John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) of the Norwich School knew Turner and by association no doubt fed on the same influences. Cotman was a marine and landscape painter whose later style moves towards an almost abstracted style with flat areas of paint. Similar links were forged with Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) who helped to establish watercolour in its own right as an artistic medium. He painted and drew ruins, castles and churches, the subject matter of the period which motivated the Romantic movement whose interest was in untamed nature with its strength and scale, often including the terrifying, as depicted by Gericault and Delacroix (French Romantics) . Incidentally, Dutch Shipping offshore in a rising gale by Ruisdael, as well as Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the people appear to have influenced Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, so the influences continue to interlace the history of art.

Jacob von Ruisdael 1628-1682
Jacob von Ruisdael (1628-1682) was a doctor as well as a painter.  He had tuition from his father and also from his uncle.  Central motifs were a feature of his work echoing the Baroque (1585-1700) style, also known as the Golden Age, which ultimately lead to the Romantics.  The paintings have a dramatic heightened reality, with exaggerated elevated buildings on rocks or hills, and one is reminded of Claude Lorraine’s fantastical landscapes, a French artist working in Italy.
Ruisdael travelled a lot and sketched as he went sometimes accompanied by Meindert Hobbema his pupil.  One of the features of the Dutch Landscape painters was the apparent lack of figures, although occasionally they do appear hidden away in the shadows, as it was the landscape that became the main focus of interest. This in itself was a departure from the traditional view that landscape did not have the moral seriousness of classical or religious paintings.
Ruisdael’s native landscape of Holland is flat and this is exemplified in his paintings which feature low horizons and therefore make a feature of the sky with dramatic cloud formations.  Perhaps it was the monotonous flatness of Holland that required the use of the elevated technique.  One of the themes that often recurs is the dark foreground with a sunlit highlight in the middle/far distance to add depth and interest.  These paintings were evidently completed in the Studio as it is clear from the Mill at Wijk-bij-Duurstede that there is a conflict regarding prevailing weather conditions evidenced by the slack sails of the barge and sails of the windmill, as opposed to some fairly choppy water in the foreground, and there would certainly have been some wind under those storm clouds.
Jacob von Ruisdael, Bentheim Castle © Bridgeman Library


William Turner, Chillgerren Castle ©Bridgeman Library

Again we see the influence of Ruisdael’s Bentheim Castle in Turner’s work, Chillgerren Castle, using the high elevation to add drama to the panting.  The tonal values are also similar. Sunlit passages in both paintings occur in the distance, but Claude Lorraine must also have influenced both of them. Turner’s painting uses a cooler palette. Ruisdael’s work still sees the use of chiaroscuro whereas in the Turner we can see a slight change which will eventually develop into an almost impressionistic use of colour, in his later works.
    Jacob von Ruisdael, Landscape with a stream © Bridgeman Library
    John Constable Windmill on a Hill, © Bridgeman Library

It has to be said that John Constable (1776-1837) did not frequently elevate his main motif, though this example does show a possible influence of Risdael, with the use of logs at the same angle as the landscape with a stream, and again the massive cloud formations, and a general similarity in composition.  However, most of Constable’s Dedham Vale paintings do not use these devices and are a realistic portrayal of the landscape which is well known to me having lived in the area for almost all my life. One cannot ignore Claude (1604-1505) who was a French artist Constable admired “the most perfect landscape painter the world ever saw” and we see a thread of influence radiating throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, no doubt affecting the Dutch artists as well as the later English and French Romantics.
    John Constable, entrance to Fenn Lane, ©Bridgeman Library

One of the features of Ruisdael’s paintings was the sunlight middle ground and here Constable could be using a similar technique.
John Constable, Windmill with landscape ©Bridgeman Library  

Jacob Ruisdael, Windmill (near Harlaam) with Landscape 1650-52 ©Bridgeman Library

Constable copied the Risdael  painting of the Windmill at Harlaam.  There is also another painting attributed to Risdael called The Mill Wijk-bij-Duurstede, (below) painted in 1670. Both this windmill and the one at Harlaam have been depicted during winter snow as well.
Jacob Ruisdael, The Mill Wijk-bij-Duurstede 1670 ©Bridgeman Library

The influence of Ruisdael on both Turner and Constable is evident from these illustrations. 
    Jacob Ruisdael, Riverside Landscape ©Bridgeman Library

     John Constable, The Hay Wain ©Bridgeman Library
It might be stretching a point to see similarities between the Hay Wain and Ruisdael’s River Landscape but Ruisdael did many paintings of watery landscapes surrounded by trees, this one happens to feature sheep and a horse in the river, that taken with the idea of a sunlit middle distance, then in combination, there is a general influence.  I also sense similarities with Constable’s Hampstead Heath sketches and Ruisdael’s work. I do think Ruisdael’s clouds have a greater lightness and sense of transparency than Constables, but Constable’s form is more realistic.
       Jacob von Ruisdael Wooded Landscape  ©Bridgeman Library

      Jacob von Ruisdael Landscape with ruined Castle and church With Cornfields © Bridgeman Library
       John Constable, Hampstead Heath ©Bridgeman Library  

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