This picture, and its pair below, are by Willem van den Bundel (c 1575-1655), a painter who moved from Flanders to Amsterdam, eventually settling in Delft. He was one of a number of Flemish artists who migrated north after the Spanish siege and subsequent fall of Antwerp in 1585, helping to create what became known as Holland’s Golden Age.
Van den Bundel seems to have learnt his craft from Gillis III van Coninxloo (1544-1607), who developed the depiction of wooded landscapes as a subject in its own right, an approach also seen in the paintings shown here.
The National Trust purchased this pair of pictures at Sotheby’s in London in 2008 for Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire, with generous support from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. They had been sold in the big sale of 1954 when the Blathwayt family left Dyrham after two and a half centuries of occupation.
It is interesting to compare the above birds-eye-view of Dyrham, including the formal gardens and outbuildings, with the view of Newton House, of roughly the same date, shown in the previous post. In both places the baroque garden had to be inserted into a hilly site.
The pictures originally came from Thomas Povey (1618?-1700?), who moved in court circles and was a founder member of the Royal Society. He kept a splendidly furnished house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London, where the diarist Samuel Pepys admired his wine cellar and collection of Dutch pictures.
In 1693 Povey sold a number of pictures as well as about 500 books to his nephew William Blathwayt (1649?-1717), a succesful civil servant. Blathwayt used the paintings to furnish his new country house, Dyrham Park.
Dutch pictures would have been regarded as advanced at the time, and they may also have signalled Blathwayt’s allegiance to the King William III, who had been invited to come over from Holland and oust the unpopular James II in 1688. Blathwayt had previously worked for James II, but his ability to speak Dutch and his general usefulness ensured him a place in the new administration.