The Rotterdam born painter Saftleven moved in the 1630's to Utrecht. He made several trips along the Rhine and Moselle, the first of which probably taking place in the early 1650's, as pointed out by H. Schulz, Herman Saftleven 1609-1685, 1982, pp. 76ff. During his trips he recorded many scenic places in drawings, which later served as motifs for his paintings of river landscapes. With his extensive river valleys seen from above, with numerous small figures painted with the precision of a miniaturist, Saftleven introduced a new genre in Dutch landscape painting. He continued to paint small size Rhenish landscapes until the end of his life, all executed with unremitting skill. It brought him high acclaim as testified by several laudatory poems of Joost van den Vondel.
The river landscapes of the present lot attest of a tendency in his work that became manifest in the 1660's. In this period a realistic rendering of landscape gave way to a higher degree of fantasy and his palette became more colourful. Thence the present landscapes precede the more visionary river landscapes of Jan Griffier (1645-1718).
Dr Herman Schulz has confirmed the authenticity of the panels on the basis of a photograph and he will include them in his forthcoming new edition of the catalogue raisonné of the artist.
See colour illustrations