The other van de Velde

En­joys the first sub­stan­tial gath­er­ing of works by the Dutch draughts­man and land­scape pain­ter and con­sid­ers some co­nun­drums about his life and ca­reer

Country Life Every Week - - Exhibition -

The colour­ing of his trees, his herbage and plants, is fresh and juicy; and touched with as much spirit as del­i­cacy; his skies are bril­liant and clear; and his pic­tures ex­hibit a sparkling glow of sun­shine which is al­most pe­cu­liar to him­self. his an­i­mals, par­tic­u­larly the cows, sheep and goats, are de­signed with a cor­rect­ness and per­fec­tion that has never been sur­passed. his pic­tures are held in the high­est es­ti­ma­tion, and are some­what scarce.’ Thus wrote J. R. hobbes in his 1849 The Pic­ture Col­lec­tor’s Man­ual, but of which Dutch mas­ter was he writ­ing?

In Bri­tain, at least, were this ques­tion an­swered with the name van de Velde, the re­ac­tion even of most con­nois­seurs would be: ‘But surely, the van de Veldes were ma­rine painters?’ how­ever, this was Adri­aen van de Velde (1636– 72), younger son and brother of the two Willems who so vividly painted the An­glo-dutch naval wars, first from one side and then from the other, and died in Lon­don and Green­wich af­ter many years in eng­land.

Whether Adri­aen ac­com­pa­nied them, we can­not tell, as he died just be­fore their em­i­gra­tion, but it is un­likely. The de­fec­tion of the Willems to an enemy coun­try is usu­ally re­garded as a mat­ter of eco­nom­ics, as english pa­tron­age was stronger at that point, but reli- gion may also have come into it: there are in­di­ca­tions that the younger Willem had con­verted to Catholi­cism, as had Adri­aen, and the Catholic Duke of York was a ma­jor mar­itime pa­tron.

how­ever, hav­ing mas­tered the fam­ily sub-genre of beach scenes at a re­mark­ably young age, Adri­aen turned away from the sea and made him­self per­haps the fore­most land­scape pain­ter of his gen­er­a­tion. In this, the Dutch mar­ket of­fered him more than the english. It was not un­til af­ter his death that the english took him to their hearts, where he re­mained for 150 years.

his later eclipse is more dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand and it is quite ex­tra­or­di­nary that the cur­rent show at the Dul­wich Pic­ture Gallery, which has come from the Ri­jksmu­seum, rep­re­sents the first time ‘that a sub­stan­tial body of his work has been as­sem­bled’, in the words of the mu­se­ums’ di­rec­tors.

There is a fur­ther co­nun­drum about Adri­aen, the pain­ter who was

‘It was not un­til af­ter his death that the English took him to their hearts

Van de Velde’s early mas­ter­piece The Beach at Schevenin­gen (1658) ex­cels for its de­tail picked out in the clean light

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