The present painting shows a panoramic view of a polder landscape with a windmill in the region of Nieuwkoop, near the small village of Noorden where Weissenbruch frequently worked from 1875 onwards. This was a region with windmills, waterways and lakes, weather-beaten houses and willows, with high, wide skies above. The artist was particularly fascinated with the permanently changing skies above the typical green polders. The present lot can be dated from the 1890s - the artist's best period - and shows Weissenbruch's fascination for rendering light effects and the tonal qualities. His fascination for impressive skies played an important part in his work: 'De lucht is de hoofdzaak in een schilderij. Als je lucht niet goed is, dan deugt je schilderij niet. De lucht beheerscht het heele landschap!.' (see: Hans Janssen, Wim van Sinderen, De Haagse School, Rotterdam, 1997, p. 46). Against the intense blue sky, seen from a lower viewing point, the majestic windmill is depicted to give the work a more dramatic atmosphere. It's a typical example of Weissenbruch's great interpretation of the Dutch landscape. This monumental painting is one of the biggest and most important paintings Weissenbruch realized and was based on various preliminary studies, of which two different versions of the exact same compostion are known. One is a watercolour (see: W. Laanstra, Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch 1824-1903, Amsterdam, 1992, OA/51-1, p. 196) and one small panel (see: Laanstra, O/16-1, p. 79).
Weissenbruch was born in The Hague in 1824 and died in the same city on March 24, 1903. Stimulated by the artistic milieu in which he grew up, his only aspiration as a child was to become a painter. At the age of sixteen Weissenbruch began his professional career and started taking drawing lessons with the Norwegian artist Johannes Löw. Later on he attended evening classes at The Hague Academy with Bartholomeus Johannes van Hove (1790-1880). Inspired by the famous romantic landscape painter (Andreas Schelfhout (1787-1870), Weissenbruch decided to make landscape the prime subject of his works. Although Schelfhout's influence is clearly seen in Weissenbruch's early panoramic landscapes, he soon lost the romantic characteristics and started looking for his own impressionstic and spontanious style. Like Schelfhout he had great admiration for the great landscape painters of the seventeenth century, especially Jacob van Ruisdael, which is also visible in the present lot. In 1900, when he was an aged man, Weissenbruch travelled to Fontainebleau and Barbizon, which by then had become pilgrimage resorts. Thanks to the support of the influential Amsterdam art dealer Frans Buffa, who staged an exhibition with works exclusively by Weissenbruch in 1899, his fame began to spread abroad, especially to America and Canada.