Willem Buytewech, Meadow with a Shepherd and Cows, 1617, 11 1/16 x 14 15/16 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, William Nelson Cromwell Fund

 

Aelbert Cuyp, Dordrecht Viewed from the East, early 1640s, 7 1/2 x 17 1/2 in., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Aelbert Cuyp was inspired by the drawings of a number of early seventeenth-century Dutch artists who had recorded the inland waterways, woods, and farmlands of the surrounding countryside. Many of these works were done in black chalk in sketchbooks carried into the countryside. More elaborate landscape drawings, such as Willem Buytewech's depiction of a meadow with carefully colored cows and shepherd, were often finished in the studio. Such drawings were intended to be sold as independent works of art.

Cuyp filled numerous sketchbooks with panoramic views, often with distant city profiles silhouetted against the horizon, depictions of villages nestled along inland waterways, and detailed studies of figures, animals, or plants. Many of these drawings are remarkable for their painterly qualities, which Cuyp evoked using colored washes and gum arabic, a varnish-like medium that heightens the intensity of the foreground landscape elements in his Dordrecht Viewed from the East. While the careful finish suggests that this drawing was an independent work of art, Cuyp may also have used it as a model for one of his paintings, which often combine motifs from different drawings. Cuyp most likely painted in his studio, a common practice at the time, rather than directly from nature.

 

 

 

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