The National Museum of Western Art

update 11 December 2019

Currently not on display

Jan Both [Utrecht, c. 1618 - Utrecht, 1652]

Cornelis van Poelenburgh [Utrecht, c. 1595 - Utrecht, 1667]

Landscape with Nymphs

Materials/Techniquesoil on canvas
Size (cm)49 x 60
InscriptionsSigned lower right: JBoth
Credit LinePurchased
CategoryPaintings
Collection NumberP.1992-0005
Landscape with Nymphs

Jan Both was a representative Dutch Italianate painter. Since the realist theory of painting had expanded unilaterally during this period, there is the mistaken view that only Dutch-type landscapes existed in 17th century Dutch painting. In fact, the Italianate style landscape was extremely popular in Holland at that time, and records reveal that such paintings were quite expensive. Reflecting this state of affairs, there is an Italianate mood in the landscape shown here. While a small work, this painting ably reveals Both's characteristic methods. The careful brush work and expression of the densely clumped trees and plants suggest a relatively early production date (1640s), while the bright sky that expands across the upper right of the composition gives the painting a particularly lyrical mood. This lyricism is further heightened by the presence of nude nymphs in the foreground. These nymphs probably are related to some subject, but given that there are no specific clues present, it is hard to assign a particular subject to the work. Subjects that would involve the presence of several nymphs scattered in a landscape include the tales of Diana and Callisto, but while the nymphs here recall such tales, it seems that the work is mainly an experiment in freer landscape depiction. This painting, with its gentle sunlight, mythological subject and lyrical landscape setting all work together to form a landscape diametrically opposed to the reality of Holland at the time. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no. 40)

Provenance

Auc. Sotheby's London, 9 March, 1983, no. 70; Richard L. Feigen, New York; Purchased by the NMWA, 1993.

Bibliography

1996
Annual bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. Nos. 27-28 (April 1992-March 1994), 1996, Kofuku, Akira. New Acquisitions. pp. 23-24, List of New Acquisitions. p. 69, col. repr.
2006
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2006 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 40, col. repr.
2009
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2009, no. 40, col. repr.
2018
Kofuku, Akira. Catalogue of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. [Tokyo], The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; The Western Art Foundation, 2018, pp. 64-65, no. 15, col. repr.

Page top