Monday, October 28, 2013

Meindert Hobbema

Meindert Hobbema
Dutch landscape painter Meindert Hobbema was a student and apprentice of Jacob van Ruisdael, and initially painted very much in the style of the older master.

There are few records and not much written about Hobbema. He apparently was not very successful in his own time. Records indicate that he worked as a wine gauger for the city of Amsterdam for over forty years, though he continued to produce many paintings.

For a time after his death, Hobbema fell into almost complete obscurity. Many of his paintings in the early style of Van Ruisdael were passed off as Van Ruisdael’s by dealers. His work came into favor in the subsequent 18th and 19th centuries, and was influential on a number of other landscape artists. This 1894 article from Century Magazine by engraver Timothy Cole, makes clear that the shift in valuation of his work was dramatic when it happened.

Hobbema was remarkably productive, given his full time job and the sometimes astonishing level of detail in his work. I can only imagine that he must have worked in a zen-like state for hours on end while of painting the leaves on his intricately detailed trees and shrubs. His paintings were reasonably large, but not dramatically so — usually about 40×60″ (100x145cm).

The detail is such that viewing images of his paintings as small reproductions doesn’t tell you much. I’ve provided some detail crops of the first three images above, and tried to list some of the resources for high-resolution images below. Also, as convenient as images collections like Wikimedia are, you’ll find better color on the sites of the museums listed on Artcyclpedia.

The Hobbema currently on view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (above, top with two details), has become a regular must-see on my visits to the museum.

[Suggestion courtesy of Erik Tiemens]

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