A Peasant driving a laden mule

Oil Painting
ca. 1645 (painted)
A Peasant driving a laden mule thumbnail 1
A Peasant driving a laden mule thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Jan Both (ca. 1618-1652) may have trained in Utrecht under Abraham Bloemaert (ca. 1564-1651) and Gerrit van Honthorst (ca. 1590-1656). By 1638, he had joined his brother Andries in Rome but was back in Utrecht by 1646 and remained there until his death.

This painting is a typical example of Jan Both's compositional inventions built upon a series of diagonals. Here the path, the stream and the ascendant versant of the hill structure the whole picture and give a sense of depth even though a large stripe of land occupies the foreground. Jan Both also often represented landscapes with transiting laden mules and figures such as Italian landscape,Mauritshuis, The Hague, bathed in a warm Mediterranean sunlight, a tonality that is recurrent in his entire production. The reddish brown palette of the present picture, which probably looks darker than it would have originally been, is close to a ca. 1645 painting in the National Gallery, London: Men with an Ox and Cattle by a Pool,which also presents a similar subject. However the date of his works is far from easy to determine and he rarely dated them.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on oak panel
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'Peasant Driving a Laden Mule', Jan Both, Netherlands, ca. 1645
Physical Description
In a Mediterranean landscape drenched in a golden sunlight, a peasant is driving a laden mule on a path by the side of a stream with rocky banks; a female figure carrying a pack on her head is walking ahead.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 40.6cm
  • Estimate width: 27.9cm
  • With frame weight: 5.5kg
  • Framed height: 64.5cm
  • Framed width: 51.4cm
Style
Credit line
Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides
Object history
Coll. J. Dujardin, sold Christie's London 20 March 1882, lot 104, bought C.A. Ionides for £5.5s.; bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides, 1900



Historical significance: Jan Both belongs to the generation of Dutch Italianate landscape painters that actually went to Rome. In Rome, he collaborated with Claude Lorrain who would become one of the most important exponents of classical landscape painters. Jan Both was particularly interested in the pictorial effects of light and imitates Claude's rendering of the Roman countryside drenched in a Mediterranean golden light. In this respect, he made an important contribution to the development of Dutch Italianate landscape painting and was particularly praised by Utrecht patricians who preferred his pictures as well as those by Cuyp to the native Dutch landscapes in the manner of Van Goyen. He mostly produced imaginary landscapes that he occasionally peopled with religious or mythological figures painted by other painters but most of the time he preferred to represent ordinary people involved in simple daily activities, a simplicity that contrasts with the golden idyllic distance of his landscapes.
Historical context
Italianate landscapes were particularly praised during the 17th century up to the early 19th century. The term conventionally refers to the school of Dutch painters and draughtsmen who were active in Rome for more than a hundred years, starting from the early 17th century. These artists produced mainly pastoral subjects bathed in warm southern light, set in an Italian, or specifically Roman, landscape. The term is also often applied, but wrongly, to artists who never left the northern Netherlands but who worked primarily in an Italianate style. Eighteenth-century collectors, especially French ones, preferred a view by Berchem or Both to a scene of the Dutch country side by Jacob van Ruisdael for instance. The taste for the Italianates continued undiminished into the 19th century. An early voice denouncing these artists was that of John Constable in 1836 and at the end of the century Italianates had lost favour oartly because of the rise of Impressionism and the appreciation of the Dutch national school of landscape expounded by such eminent critics as Wilhem von Bode, E.W. Moes and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Jan Both (ca. 1618-1652) may have trained in Utrecht under Abraham Bloemaert (ca. 1564-1651) and Gerrit van Honthorst (ca. 1590-1656). By 1638, he had joined his brother Andries in Rome but was back in Utrecht by 1646 and remained there until his death.



This painting is a typical example of Jan Both's compositional inventions built upon a series of diagonals. Here the path, the stream and the ascendant versant of the hill structure the whole picture and give a sense of depth even though a large stripe of land occupies the foreground. Jan Both also often represented landscapes with transiting laden mules and figures such as Italian landscape,Mauritshuis, The Hague, bathed in a warm Mediterranean sunlight, a tonality that is recurrent in his entire production. The reddish brown palette of the present picture, which probably looks darker than it would have originally been, is close to a ca. 1645 painting in the National Gallery, London: Men with an Ox and Cattle by a Pool,which also presents a similar subject. However the date of his works is far from easy to determine and he rarely dated them.
Bibliographic References
  • Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 36-37, cat. no. 36
  • Christopher Wright, Dutch Painting in Seventeenth Century: Images of a Golden Age in Britain Collections,London, 1989, p. 173.
Collection
Accession Number
CAI.81

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record createdJune 11, 2003
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