Wooded Landscape with Travellers and Beggars on a Road
XQG 1971 Dutch 24
Hobbema (1638-1709) specialised in wooded landscapes, and, like Ruisdael, often repeated motifs in his works. In contrast to Ruisdael’s solemn scenes, an element of storytelling animates Hobbema’s landscapes. The subject here is one of contrasts: the darkness of the right foreground gives way to bright sunshine beyond; the wildness of the trees is tempered by the appealing homeliness of the houses nestling amongst them. The figure group shows a similarly contrasted encounter between two richly clad riders (she riding side-saddle and followed by a servant on foot) and two roadside beggars, the man reaching out in supplication. Just to the right of centre, two further figures, accompanied by a dog, pause to look through the trees to the area of golden light beyond.
The figures in Wooded Landscape, although small, are included for the specific function of directing the viewer’s eye through the landscape. It has been suggested that they were painted by Adriaen van de Velde, who was often engaged to add figures to the landscapes of his contemporaries, including those of Hobbema and Jacob van Ruisdael.
Hobbema was born, worked and died in Amsterdam. The name ‘Hobbema’ was his own invention; his father was called Lubbert Meyndert. On 8 July 1660 Hobbema testified before an Amsterdam notary that he had spent several years ‘serving and studying’ with Jacob van Ruisdael. He married in 1668 and became a wine gauger for the Amsterdam authorities, after which his artistic output waned.
Signed and dated lower right: 'M Hobbema / f 1668'
Text adapted from Dutch Landscapes, London, 2010