Jan van Goyen (Leiden 1596-1656 The Hague)
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Jan van Goyen (Leiden 1596-1656 The Hague)

A stormy landscape with a lightning bolt over the Haarlemer Meer

Jan van Goyen (Leiden 1596-1656 The Hague)
A stormy landscape with a lightning bolt over the Haarlemer Meer
signed with monogram 'VG' and dated '1642' (on the boat, lower right)
oil on panel
15¾ x 24 in. (39.9 x 61 cm.)
with Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris, by 1873.
Rudolf Peltzer, Cologne; his sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, 26-27 May 1914 [=1st day], lot 311 (fl. 3,900).
with Max Rothschild, London, 1920-5.
with Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1926.
Anonymous sale; Galerie Fievez, Brussels 8 May 1929, lot 52 (90,000 Belgian Francs to Goudstikker).
with Jacques Goudstikker.
Looted by the Nazi authorities, July 1940.
Recovered by the Allies, 1945.
in the custody of the Dutch Government.
Restituted in February 2006 to the heir of Jacques Goudstikker.
C. Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten Holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, Paris, 1923, VIII, no. 1111.
H-U. Beck, Jan van Goyen 1596-1656, Augsburg, 1973, II, p. 362, no. 807, illustrated.
L.J. Bol, Die Holländische Marinemalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Braunschweig, 1973, p. 332, n. 279.
C. Wright, Paintings in Dutch Museums. An Index of Oil Paintings in Public Collections in The Netherlands by Artists born before 1870, London, 1980, p. 146.
Old Master Paintings: An illustrated summary catalogue, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst (The Netherlandish Office for the Fine Arts), The Hague, 1992, no. 841, p. 111, illustrated.
Vienna, Gallery Sedelmeyer, Gemälde alter Meister aus dem Wiener, 1873, no. 68.
Utrecht, Centraal Museum, December 1925-January 1926, no. 9.
The Hague, Schilderkundig Genootschap Pulchri Studio, 10th Exposition de la Collection Goudstikker d'Amsterdam, 13 March-4 April 1926, no. 59.
Rotterdam, Rotterdamsche Kunstkring, Catalogue de la Collection Goudstikker d'Amsterdam, 10-25 April 1926, no. 39.
National de l'eau in Luik, 1939, no. 216.
Arnhem, Gemeentemuseum, Het Nederlandse landschap in het 17 eeuw, 1964, no. 15.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Het Hollandse 17de centuryse landschap, 20 October-16 November 1972, no. 22.
Michigan, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Landscapes from the Golden Age, 19 May-19 June 1972, no. 22.
Aarhus, Kunstmuseum, Landskaber fra Hollands Guldalder, 1976-7, no. 11, and the Nasjongalleriet, Oslo and Göteborgs Konstmuseum, Göteborg.
Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Centre of Art, Mirror of Empire. Dutch Marine Art of the Seventeenth Century, 23 September-30 December 1990, no. 16; and The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, January-April 1991; and The County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, May-September 1991.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Tussen fantasie en werkelijkheid, 20 March-20 June 1992, no. 33.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, on loan.
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Lot Essay

Van 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 as well as a certain amount of stability in his private life. Despite losing a great deal of money in 1637, supposedly through a failed venture in the tulip market, he was able to buy a house on the Singelgracht in The Hague in 1639 and was appointed head of the Guild of Saint Luke in the city in 1638, and again in 1640.

By the 1640s van Goyen's palette was moving away from the brown-green tones that he used in the early 1630s towards a more austerely monochromatic yellow and golden brown tonal range. Although he employed a restricted palette, van Goyen was able to capture an enormous range of atmospheric effects and achieve a masterly sense of depth in his compositions. This was partly achieved by his expert use of a transparent ground, which allowed the natural grain of the wooden panel to appear through the oil glazes, most notably in the sky and water in his landscapes. This technique was skillfully deployed in this beautifully preserved work of 1642.

Here we see the artist exploring the effect of a thunderstorm as it passes directly over the Haarlemer Meer (despite his fascination for shipping and water, van Goyen never painted the open sea, preferring inland waters and lakes such as the Haarlemer Meer, a vast lake near Haarlem that was only drained in the 19th century). The dramatic effects of the weather was a constant theme of van Goyen's work throughout his career. As early as 1625 in Landscape in bad weather (Fundaçao Mederios e Almeida, Lisbon) he demonstrated his mastery of the depiction of wind and rain. In the 1640s he explored these weather conditions with renewed vigour, introducing such motifs as a rainbow after a shower in the landscape of 1641 in the Hallwylska Museet, Stockholm and the Storm over the Sea of 1647 in the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe (no. 1843).

In this work of 1642, which for many years hung on loan in the Stedelijk Museum, Leiden, van Goyen has captured a highly dramatic moment in the storm, when a thunderbolt illuminates the sky in the centre of the picture, against the dark threatening clouds, while the wind has whipped up the water into a choppy swell that tosses the small vessels in different directions. The light emanating from the horizon, beyond the clouds, catches the tops of the waves and silhouettes the boat on the left, with its fluttering flag, to memorable effect.

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