JAN VAN GOYEN: THE PIONEER OF NATURALISTIC LANDSCAPES

Evincing the movement of clouds by capturing the subtle quality of light and air, the naturalistic landscapes of Dutch Baroque Era painter, Jan Josephszoon van Goyen, are famous for their monochromatic harmonies and animated atmospheric image. One of the leading and most prolific landscape artists, Goyen was born on January 13, 1596, in Leiden, Netherlands.

Goyen learned painting under several masters at Leiden and Haarlem and settled at The Hague in 1632. To support his family, Goyen worked as an auctioneer, an appraiser of art, and a real-estate investor. He also speculated in tulips bulbs and suffered severe losses when the tulip market crash in 1637.

Goyen spent much of the 1620s heavily influenced by Esaias van de Velde, under whom he had studied in 1618-19. In 1627 he broke away from the example of his master and his works after this date show a new maturity which marks the beginning of his own individual style. Goyen's winter landscapes of the 1620s are characterized, like van de Velde's,  by a composition cluttered with figures, buildings and trees. Later he used low horizons that gave his landscapes a Baroque sense of spatial expansiveness.

Goyen traveled frequently around the Netherlands and visited France. He painted river views  and seascapes as well as city views and winter scenes. During his travels van Goyen filled several sketchbooks with rapid studies of landscapes, buildings, animals and figures, which he would then use as the basis for elements in his oil paintings.

Goyen reached the pinnacle of his creative work in the 1640s. By the end of the preceding decade the artist had achieved notable recognition as one of the foremost landscapists of his generation. Goyen was one of the most prolific artists of the 17th century. Leaving behind twelve hundred paintings and more than one thousand drawings, Goyen died on 7 April, 1656, in The Hague.

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