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River Landscape with a Village Church, 1642

Jan van Goyen
Dutch, 1596-1656
Oil on panel
12-1/2 x 15-1/2 in. (31.8 x 39.4 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Although Jan van Goyen traveled extensively and spent a year in France, he confined himself to painting the landscapes of his native Holland. Along with Salomon van Ruysdael, he developed a solution to the problem of painting the Dutch landscape with its dominating sky and flat countryside. By imposing one consistent tonality over the entire painting, the artists could visually unite these two quite different elements of air and land.

This river landscape, signed and dated on the edge of the ferryboat in the foreground, is a superb example of the artist’s “tonal” period of the early 1640s, in which the short, green-brown-gray brushstrokes unite all the elements of the scene.

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