National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Moonlit Landscape with Bridge Aert van der Neer (artist)
Dutch, 1603/1604 - 1677
Moonlit Landscape with Bridge, probably 1648/1650
oil on panel
overall: 78.4 x 110.2 cm (30 7/8 x 43 3/8 in.) framed: 132.7 x 101.6 x 6.4 cm (52 1/4 x 40 x 2 1/2 in.)
Patrons' Permanent Fund
1990.6.1
On View
From the Tour: Dutch Landscapes and Seascapes of the 1600s
Object 5 of 8

Van der Neer was in his late twenties when he decided to become an artist. He first painted winter scenes, partly under the influence of Hendrick Avercamp. By the late 1640s, however, Van der Neer developed his own specialty of nocturnes, or night scenes. These mysteriously dark, moonlit pictures belong to the early monochrome period in Dutch art, much as Avercamp’s cool grays or Jan van Goyen’s warm tans.

Here, luminous clouds float before a full moon. Reflecting the moonlight, a stream runs through the center of the scene and directs attention toward a church. A village and a walled estate close the symmetrically composed space at either side. Beams from the moon glint off window panes, glow upon a fashionable couple conversing by the estate’s ornate gateway, and silhouette a poor family crossing a bridge.

This nocturne’s radiance is created by multiple layers of translucent and opaque paint applied with consummate technical skill. Using the handle of his brush or a palette knife, Van der Neer scraped away top layers of dark color to reveal underlying pinks, golds, and blues in the clouds.

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