Born in Amsterdam in 1822, Willem Roelofs is considered one of the most important landscape painters of his time. Aside from an education at the Art Academy in The Hague, Roelofs was an apprentice to the romantic cattle and landscape painter Hendrikus van de Sande Bakhuyzen (1794-1860). Roelofs co-founded the artist's society Pulchri Studio in The Hague, where drawing lessons, art reviews and exhibitions were organized. He was also a member of several other artist societies such as Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam. He had various talented students such as Paul Gabriel (1828-1903), Alexander Mollinger (1836-1867) and Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915). In 1848 Roelofs' work was exhibited for the first time at the Exposition Generale in Brussels, the Belgian equivalent of the annual Dutch exhibitions for Levende Meesters, which showed works by contemporary artists. Many commissions soon came for Roelofs following his success at this exhibition. Critics were generally very positive and would continue to be enthusiastic about his beautiful landscapes throughout his lifetime.
The present lot depicts the river Gein between Abcoude and Driemond, which was favoured by the artist. Numerous works are known which have this attractive landscape as their subject (see lot 150). A very similar work 'Gezicht aan het Gein' (fig 1.), is kept in the collection of the Amsterdam Historisch Museum (inv.no. SA 1804). The present lot could be the painting on which 'Gezicht aan het Gein' was based, for it is known that are number of smaller works by Roelofs were also worked out into larger paintings.
During the fin-de-siecle Roelofs recognised the beauty of ordinary things:
'Wat gij en ik onverschillig voorbij-loopen als onaanzienlijk of leelijk, hij blijft er voor staan in stille verrukking, en terwijl gij u afvraagt wat hier te zien is, heeft zijn dichterziel de poëzie gevoeld van dit verlaten plekje en hij zal het u weergeven zoo, als het hem trof.' (see: H. Smissaert, 'Willem Roelofs', in: Elsevier's Geïllustreerd Maandschrift, ed. 1, 1891, p. 431).