Overview

In this scene, Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem captures both the beauty of the Italian landscape and the cool, crystalline light that imbues it with its distinctive atmospheric quality. Towering cliffs, surmounted by a round bastion and a sturdy tower, form the dramatic backdrop for the arrival of a Dutch merchant ship in a calm harbor. The galley with the furled sail lies tilted to one side, indicating that it is low tide. Two lighters—small wide-bottom barges used to ferry goods to ships anchored in deeper water—seem to await the Dutch ship’s arrival. A hunting party joins several cattlemen and goatherds at the water’s edge. The elegant couple on horseback is focused on the falcon airing its wings on the woman’s arm. The man with the staff standing next to the pair is likely the master of the hunt, the individual in charge of the dogs.

Berchem was one of the most popular and successful of the Dutch seventeenth-century Italianate landscape painters. A native of Haarlem, he probably visited Italy sometime between 1653 and 1656. Berchem’s extensive oeuvre of paintings, drawings, and etchings consists of imagined views of the Italian countryside, depictions of the hunt, as well as biblical and mythological scenes. The large number of prints made after his paintings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is indicative of Berchem’s fame.

Inscription

lower right: Berchem

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Johan van Lanschot, Leiden, by 1753;[1] by inheritance to his son-in-law, Pieter Cornelis, baron van Leyden [1717-1788, known during his lifetime as the Heer van Leyden van Vlaardingen], Leiden;[2] by inheritance with the paintings in his collection to his son, Diederik van Leyden, [1744-1810/1811], Leiden and Amsterdam;[3] sold, with the rest of his father's painting collection, for 100,000 florins to a consortium formed by L.B. Coclers, Alexander Joseph Paillet, and A. de Lespinasse de Langeac;[4] (sale of the van Leyden painting collection, A. Paillet and H. Delaroche, Paris, 5-8 November 1804, 1st day, no. 8);[5] H. Delaroche. John Parke, Esq., London; (his sale, Peter Coxe, London, 8-9 May 1812, no. 37). (John Smith, London); sold to John Webb, Esq., London. Chevalier Sébastien Érard [1752-1831], Château de la Muette, near the Bois de Boulogne, Paris; (his estate sale, at his residence by Lacoste and Coutelier, 7-14 August 1832 [originally scheduled for 23 April and days following], no. 62);[6] purchased by Alexis-Nicolas Pérignon, Paris, for Jonkheer Johan Steengracht van Oostcapelle [1782-1846], The Hague;[7] by inheritance to his son, Hendrik Steengracht van Oosterland [1808-1875], The Hague; by inheritance to his nephew, Hendricus Adolphus Steengracht van Duivenvoorde [1836-1912], The Hague; (his estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 9 June 1913, no. 4); Mr. Boyer.[8] by inheritance from the collector’s grandfather to private collection; (sale, Adar Picard Tajan, Paris, 9 April 1990, no. 82); Robert H. and Clarice Smith, Washington; gift 1990 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1991
Art for the Nation: Gifts in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1991, unnumbered catalogue, repro.

Bibliography

1829
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 5(1934):47, no. 137.
1831
Catalogue des tableaux italiens, flamands, hollandais et français: des anciennes écoles, qui composent la magnifique galerie de M. le Chevalier Érard. Paris, 1831: 82-83, no. 62.
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: 2:95.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 9(1926):80, no. 107.
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):80, no. 107.
1958
Schaar, Eckhard. Studien zu Nicolaes Berchem. Cologne, 1958: 86.
1991
National Gallery of Art. Art for the Nation: Gifts in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1991: 74-75, color repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 23-24, color repro. 25.
2003
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. Facsimile edition of London 1854. London, 2003: 2:95.
2012
Vries, Annette de, Quentin Buvelot, and Femke Foppema. Passie voor schilderijen: de verzameling Steengracht van Duivenvoorde. Exh. cat. Kasteel Duivenvoorde, Voorschoten. Leiden, 2012: 42, 84-85, color repros. 5 and 35.

Conservation Notes

The support, a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric, is loosely woven of irregularly spun threads. Part of the original tacking margins were retained at the time of lining and incorporated into the picture plane, slightly expanding the dimensions on all four sides. Lining has reinforced the weave texture.

Paint is applied over an off-white ground in thin opaque layers worked wet over dry. Minor losses are confined to the edges. The upper right corner of the sky is abraded, as are the edges. No treatment has been undertaken at the National Gallery.

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