Overview

Jan Both was one of the most important Dutch painters of Italianate landscapes. In 1637 or 1638 he joined his older brother Andries in Rome and stayed there until his return to his native city of Utrecht in 1642. While in Rome, Both collaborated on two projects with Claude Lorrain (1604–1682), whose ideal of the classical landscape greatly influenced the younger artist. Both's refined brushwork and attention to detail, however, are characteristics of his Dutch heritage.

An Italianate Evening Landscape is a wonderful example of Both's ability to lure the viewer into a distant world and make that world seem welcoming and familiar. In a gentle mountainous setting reminiscent of the hills of the Roman Campagna, goatherds and cowherds prepare to return to their homes as the sun slowly descends behind the horizon. The men are surrounded by imposing trees whose foliage creates a rich play with the light clouds and the changing hues of the evening sky. Against the golden sunset that saturates this scene, these humble men gain a simple dignity. Everything in this tranquil setting exudes a feeling of well-being. Although the human figures are dwarfed by the majestic trees, man and nature seem to exist in perfect harmony. In this arcadian setting, only the broken trunk in the center of the foreground subtly reminds us of the mutability of the world and its inhabitants.

Inscription

lower left, JB in monogram: JBoth

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Pieter Cornelis, baron van Leyden [1717-1788, known during his lifetime as the Heer van Leyden van Vlaardingen], Leiden;[1] by inheritance with the paintings in his collection to his son, Diederik van Leyden [1844-1810/1811], Leiden and Amsterdam;[2] sold, with the rest of his father's painting collection, to a consortium formed by L.B. Coclers, Alexander Joseph Paillet, and A. de Lespinasse de Langeac;[3] (sale, Paillet and Delaroche, Paris, 5-8 November 1804, no. 6);[4] purchased by Paillet for Herard. Alexander Baring [later 1st baron Ashburton, 1774-1848], Bath House, London, by 1821;[5] by inheritance to his son, William Bingham Baring, 2nd baron Ashburton [1799-1864], Bath House, London; by bequest 1864 to his wife, Louisa Caroline, Lady Ashburton [née Mackenzie, 1827-1903], Bath House, London; sold by her executor and son-in-law, William George Spencer Scott Compton, 5th marquess of Northampton [1851-1913], to a consortium of (Thos. Agnew & Sons, Charles Davis, Arthur J. Sully, and Asher Wertheimer, all in London); presumably retained by Wertheimer until (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 18 June 1920, no. 6, as A Woody Landscape); (Permain, London).[6] Charles Hubert Archibald Butler [1901-1978], Shortgrove, Newport, Essex; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 26 June 1964, no. 51);[7] (Alfred Brod Gallery, London), until at least December 1965.[8] (Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, London), 1966-1967; sold to private collection; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, 7 July 2000, no. 17); purchased by NGA.

Exhibition History

1821
British Institution, London, 1821, no. 55, as Landscape; a View in Italy, with Figures travelling.
1964
25th Exhibition of Old Master Paintings, Alfred Brod Gallery, London, 1964, no. 41.
1965
Nederlandse 17e eeuwse Italianiserende landschapschilders [Dutch 17th Century Italianate Landscape Painters], Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 1965, no. 57, repro., as Landschap met muilezelrijder.
2001
Aelbert Cuyp, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2001-2002, not in cat. (shown only in Washington for first month of exhibition).

Bibliography

1821
British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom. A catalogue of pictures of the Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch schools: with which the proprietors have favoured the Institution. Exh. cat. British Institution, London, 1821: 16, no. 55.
1829
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 6(1835):179, no. 23,199-200, no. 78.
1854
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss.. 3 vols. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. London, 1854: 2:111.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907-1928: 9(1926):505, no. 306.
1964
Alfred Brod Gallery. 25th Exhibition of Old Master Paintings. London, 1964: no. 41.
1965
Houtzager, Maria Elisabeth, H.J. de Smedt, and Albert Blankert. Nederlandse 17e eeuwse Italianiserende landschapschilders. Exh. cat. Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 1965: 126, no. 57.
1972
Burke, James Donald. "Jan Both: Paintings, drawings, and prints." Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, 1972: 200-201, no. 31.
1978
Blankert, Albert. Nederlandse zeventiende eeuwse Italianiserende landschapschilders. Revised and enlarged ed. Exh. cat. Centraal Museum, Utrecht. Soest, 1978: 126, no. 57.
2003
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. Facsimile edition of London 1854. London, 2003: 2:111.

Conservation Notes

The support is two pieces of a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric, joined with a horizontal seam, which runs through the lower portion of the landscape. It has been mounted on a seven-member stretcher, but stretcher-bar cracks indicate that an earlier stretcher, possibly the original, had a single, thin, vertical crossbar. The painting has been lined at least twice and the tacking margins have been removed, but visible cusping on all four sides indicates that the painting probably retains its original dimensions.

The support was prepared with a gray ground. Both used thin layers of paint to create the image. The paint appears to be oil, but an aqueous emulsion may have been used to enhance the texture and depth in the foliage, tree trunks, vines, and other highly textured areas. This emulsion has a beaded-up quality and appears to have been applied with a sponge, rather than a brush. There are some pentimenti in the hills of the middle ground on the left side of the painting.

The support fabric has a large tear in the upper right corner and a vertical split that intersects the seam in the lower left quadrant. There is some weave enhancement, which was probably caused by excessive pressure during one of the linings. The paint is in good condition, though some of the pigments appear to have faded. As a result, the moss on the trees in the foreground appears overly bright. The painting was treated in 2000, at which time several layers of discolored varnish were removed. The treatment involved toning the overly bright moss and the pentimenti.

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