We have just managed to purchase this painting at auction at Tennants, attributed to the Dutch Italianate landscape painter Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem (1620-83). It was at Belton House during the nineteenth and the early twentieth century, and it will now return there.
A nice story about Berchem’s name is that this was a descriptive nickname given to him by the pupils in the studio of the painter Jan van Goyen, who regularly used to hide him (‘Berg hem!’ meaning ‘Hide him!’) when he was in disgrace and was being pursued by his father. A more prosaic explanation is that it relates to his father’s hometown, Berchem, near Antwerp.
Berchem travelled to Westphalia with Jacob van Ruysdael in about 1650, and he subsequently may have traveled to Italy as well. Certainly his style reflects the contemporary fashion for Italian light and scenery.
The painting was recorded at Belton House in 1809, in the ownership of John Cust, 2nd Baron and later 1st Earl Brownlow (1778-1853), who had himself traveled to Italy in 1802. The 1st Earl’s brother’s grandson, Adalbert Cust, 5th Baron Brownlow (1867-1927) left it to his sister, the Hon. Marion Isabella Tower (née Cust, 1854-1939). In 1958 it was with the London dealer Alfred Brod.