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Overview

Billowing clouds sweep across the sky in Jan van Goyen's engaging portrayal of the lively waterways near Dordrecht. While sailboats and dinghies filled with men and women come and go, the most active elements of the painting are the shifting patterns of light and shade passing over this watery domain. Van Goyen exploited these atmospheric qualities not only through his quick and fluid brushwork, but also in the way he patterned his composition by silhouetting foreground figures and their boats against sunlit waters beyond, and by juxtaposing the distant city profile against the white clouds. While Van Goyen clearly viewed Dordrecht from the banks of the river Merwede, the essence of the painting is not topography but the character of the air and human life in the confluence of rivers surrounding this important and historic Dutch city.

Over the course of his long career, Van Goyen painted about 70 views of Dordrecht and its environs. This work, executed in the 1650s, is likely one of the last. The thick and vigorous application of paint is typical of his work from that time, as is the large compositional element of the ferryboat with its billowing sail and the strong contrasts of light and dark.

Inscription

lower right on the bow of the boat: V G 165[illegible numeral]

Provenance

Exhibition History
1909
The Hudson-Fulton Celebration, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1909, no. 19 (catalogue entry has the dimensions of no. 18, NGA 2014.136.33).
1978
Romance and Reality: Aspects of Landscape Painting. For the Benefit of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Wildenstein & Co., New York, October 1978, no. 33.
1978
The William A. Clark Collection: An exhibition marking the 50th Anniversary of the installation of The Clark Collection at The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 1978, catalogue without checklist.
1989
The William A. Clark Collection: Treasures of a Copper King, Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, Montana; Montana Historial Society, Helena, 1989, unnumbered checklist.
2001
Antiquities to Impressionism: The William A. Clark Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 2001-2002, catalogue without checklist.
Bibliography
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: 8(1927): 25-26, no. 50.
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: 8(1923): 19, no. 50.
1909
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Catalogue of a collection of paintings by Dutch masters of the seventeenth century. The Hudson-Fulton Celebration 1. Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1909: 20, no. 19, repro.
1910
Breck, Joseph. "L'Art hollandais à l'exposition Hudson-Fulton à New-York." L'Art Flamand et Hollandais 13 (June-July 1910): 59.
1910
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Old Dutch Masters Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Connection with the Hudson-Fulton Celebration. New York, 1910: 86, no. 19, repro.
1925
Carroll, Dana H. Catalogue of Objects of Fine Art and Other Properties at the Home of William Andrews Clark, 962 Fifth Avenue. Part I. Unpublished manuscript, n.d. (1925): 132, no. 71
1927
Volhard, Hans. Die Grundtypen der Landschaftsbilder Jan van Goyens und ihre Entwiklung. Frankfurt am Main, 1927: 163, 188.
1928
Corcoran Gallery of Art. Illustrated Handbook of the W. A. Clark Collection. Washington, 1928: 42.
1932
Corcoran Gallery of Art. Illustrated Handbook of the W. A. Clark Collection. Washington, 1932: 47.
1955
Breckenridge, James. D. A Handbook of Dutch and Flemish Paintings in the William Andrews Clark Collection. Washington, 1955: 20, repro.
1973
Beck, Hans-Ulrich. Jan van Goyen, 1596-1656: ein Oeuvreverzeichnis. 4 vols. Vol. 2: Katalog der Gemälde. Amsterdam, 1973: 2: 153, no. 311, repro.
1978
Sutton, Denys. Romance and Reality: Aspects of Landscape Painting. For the Benefit of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Exh. cat. New York, Wildenstein & Co. New York, 1978: 18-19, nos. 21 and 33, repro.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington and Grand Rapids, 1986: 299.
1989
Lewis, Hall, ed. The William A. Clark Collection: Treasures of a Copper King. Exh. cat. Billings, Yellowstone Art Center, Billings; Helena, Montana Historial Society, Helena. Billings, 1989: 7, 42, repro.