Water water everywhere

A river scene with a ferry by Salomon van Ruysdael (1600-1670), at Polesden Lacey, Surrey ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

In an earlier post I was musing about the degree of realism in Dutch seventeenth-century landscape paintings.

View in Ottoland, Zuid Holland, the Netherlands. ©Emile de Bruijn

I have just been visiting family in Holland. At my mother-in-law’s place in the Alblasserwaard polder I was struck by how picturesque the landscape still occasionally is.

Cottage beside a track through a wood by Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709), at Ascott, Buckinghamshire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The village where she lives also has lots of ugly modern developments, but here and there the classic Dutch landscape does shine through.

©Emile de Bruijn

And it is a cliché, but the flatness of the landscape does make the sky seem bigger, and the cloudscapes more prominent (sadly not shown in my amateur snaps).

River scene by Salomon van Ruysdael (1600-1670), at Petworth House, West Sussex ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

The older farms in the village tend to sit on little hilllocks, the age-old precaution against flooding. These days they have river dykes, sluices and pumps, but the water is still present everywhere you look.

©Emile de Bruijn

The combination of a low horizon, a dominant sky, an abundance of water and a pattern of small neat fields creates a particular, perhaps unique kind of beauty.

2 Responses to “Water water everywhere”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Love the photos from the recent visit. Thank you.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks. Isn’t it curious that one can still find some continuity, amidst all the change?

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