Wijnand Nuijen (1813-1839) is commonly seen as an infant prodigy. At a very young age his father recognised his talent and arranged for Andreas Schelfhout (1778-1870), who was by then already a famous artist, to take him on as a pupil in his workshop at the age of only twelve. Later on Schelfhout in turn would take lessons from his pupil in order to, as he put it, "get rid of his green, mushy palet". In the same year, 1825, Nuijen became a student of the The Hague Drawingacademy, where he was tutored by Bartholomeus van Hove (1790-1880). In 1829, at the age of 16! he painted the astonishing picture known as De afgeknotte molen (The truncated windmill) now in a private collection. This idea, to cut off the painterly subject at the edge of the picture and thus creating a snapshot effect was revolutionary in an age where the camera wasn't even invented yet. Jacob Maris repeated this idea in 1872 in a picture with the same title which is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (inv. no. A2458) and even then some art criticts could not understand nor appreciate this way of composing pictorial space. No wonder the critics of Nuijen's day did not understand his work some fourty-three years earlier.
Nuijen was a non-conformist and mostly sought his inspiration during his travels to France and Germany in 1833 and to Paris and Normandy, France where he was inspired by the marine painter Eugne Isaby (1803-1886). His palet was lighter than that of his Dutch contemporaries and his style was looser than the critics of his day appreciated. Another thing that the critics of his day could not understand was that Nuijen did not confine himself to one discipline. He painted marines as wel as extensive landscapes and city views. Nuijen was of great influence on Dutch painting of the 19th century in particular painters as Johannes Bosboom (1817-1891), Huib van Hove Bz. (1814-1864) en Samuel Verveer (1813-1876) owe much to his ideas. The present lot, painted in 1839, the year of Nuijens untimely death, clearly shows us a composition scheme already used in the 17th century by amongst others, Jacob van Ruisdael (1628-1682) and Jan van Goyen (1596-1665). The large sunlit building, that stands out against a dark foreground, and almost totaly fills the plane in the right, automatically draws the eye of the beholder to the horizon in the left of the picture where the waters and the skies meet. Nuijen's skies and waters do not clash, as oposed to the pictures by Van Goyen and Ruisdael, but gradually flow over in one another, thus enhancing the tranquil atmophere Wijnand Nuijen was looking for. The eye is drawn to the hay-barge by the diagonals formed by the floating tree trunks to the right and left of the barge. Bij using a simple and solid composition, Nuyen has enhanced the peaceful nature of the subject-matter. Pictoral elements such as the love-birds on the roof top and the dozing ducks on the tree trunks furthermore attribute to the scene's tranquil quality.