Century Magazine/Volume 47/Issue 6/Old Dutch Masters. Meyndert Hobbema

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he landscapes of Meyndert Hobbema were little known or appreciated until about a century after his death, and consequently the details of his life are few and scanty. He is said to have studied under Salomon van Ruisdael, though by others he is believed to have been the pupil of the greater Jacob van Ruisdael, nephew of the former. He certainly enjoyed the friendship and advice of the latter, whose junior he was by a few years, and, as might naturally be expected, his works bear a certain affinity to those of his famous contemporary. He was born in 1638, probably at Amsterdam, though the city of Haarlem, the town of Koeverden, and the village of Middelharnis in Holland are each said to have been his birthplace. He is known, however, to have resided at Amsterdam, and to have been married there in 1668, to which event his friend Jacob was a witness. He then recorded his age as thirty. He died in Amsterdam, December 14, 1709, and was buried there, ending his days in poverty and obscurity, his last lodging being in the Roosgraft, the street in which Rembrandt had died, just as poor, forty years before.

Only thirty-five years ago the best of his works were not valued at much more than thirty dollars, and often the signatures were effaced from them, and better known names, such as Ruisdael and Decker, were substituted. Now, however, his canvases are highly valued, and a work which before went begging at thirty dollars would probably fetch a thousand times as much. Hobbema ranks next to Ruisdael as a landscape-painter. Most of his works are in England.

The subject I have engraved is known as "The Avenue, Middelharnis, Holland." The long avenue of straight, lopped trees leads up to the village, in which the church tower is a conspicuous object. It is a faithful and characteristic glimpse of Holland, with its pastures, waterways, low horizons, and expansive and impressive skies. Above all, it is the sky which holds us here; we feel the vastness of the immense vault of heaven. The work is gray and neutral in coloring, yet clear, strong, and fresh. In this respect Hobbema stands about midway between the golden manner of Cuyp and the cool, sober style of Ruisdael. This painting is one of the finest of Hobbema’s, and is to be seen in the National Gallery, London. It is on canvas, and measures three feet, four and one half inches high, by four feet, seven and one half inches wide. The date upon it, 16—9, is read by some to be 1689, which would make it one of the latest of the artist’s signed pictures.

The Avenue, Middelharnis, Holland."
The Avenue, Middelharnis, Holland.