Jan Josefsz. Van Goyen (1596-1656)

Van Goyen was born in Leiden. He was a pupil of the landscape painter Esaias van de Velde of Haarlem, In 1631 he moved to The Hague, where he mainly worked until he died in 1656. His earliest dated painting is from 1620. In 1649 his daughter married his pupil, Jan Steen, the famous painter of genre scenes.

One of the main pioneers of naturalistic landscape in early 17th century Holland, Van Goyen was an extremely prolific artist. At first he employed Van de Velde’s vibrant style. Then, around 1627, he began to move towards a more monochrome palette, generally working in just one or two colours in his landscapes – mostly in greens and greys – like Salomon van Ruysdael.

Approximately twelve hundred paintings and around eight hundred drawings by him are known, many of the latter made on his travels around the Netherlands, France and Germany. He also executed a number of landscape etchings. His sketches were made very rapidly outdoors and would be kept in the studio as reference material for the more detailed drawings in pen and ink he used in his paintings.


Jan Josefsz. Van Goyen (1596-1656), Two pages from a sketchbook: A ramshackle cottage with peasants resting and An overgrown garden wall, a cottage beyond, 1645-50


Black chalk, brown ink framing lines
A pair, each 3¾ x 6 in (9.5 x 15 cm)

This pair of beautiful drawings belongs to a group of small landscape studies, all with the same dimensions, which probably originally formed part of a sketchbook and may have been executed during van Goyen’s travels in the Southern Netherlands. Another example from the group is in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (Beck, op. cit., no. 662). The group has been dated to 1645-50, but may even date from slightly earlier. The cottage which is seen from different angles in the present drawings appears again on one of the leaves of a sketchbook from 1644 (H.-U. Beck, Ein Skizzenbuch von Jan van Goyen, The Hague, 1966, p. 68, illustrated). The second drawing in the present pair was used by van Goyen as the basis for two larger, more elaborate drawings executed almost ten years later in 1652-53 (Beck, op. cit. nos. 291 and 423).

These drawings were formerly in the collection of Johan (Jon) van Regteren Altena, one of the foremost collectors and connoisseurs of Northern drawings of the last century. Van Regteren Altena was Director of the Print Room of the Rijksmuseum from 1948-1962, Curator of the Teylers Museum, Haarlem, and Editor of Oud Holland.

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