View of Old London Bridge from the West

Oil Painting
1650 (painted)
View of Old London Bridge from the West thumbnail 1
View of Old London Bridge from the West thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Claude de Jongh (ca. 1600-1663) is consider as a minor Dutch master but he achieved very refined cityscapes close in style to the Haarlem school albeit he is recorded as a member of the Utrecht Guild of St Luke from 1627. This shows the complex relationship between pictorial schools within the Netherlands, a nation which small territory facilitates the merging of different artistic trends.

This painting is one of the three versions of the London Old Bridge depicted by Claude de Jongh in 1650. They are variante of his early masterpiece Old London Bridge (1630) preserved in Kenwood House. This early painting is based on a series of drawings (now in the Guildhall Library) that de Jongh could have executed during his stay in England in the early1620s. The same drawings may have served for the later series of the subject. The V&A painting presents some familiarities with the more recent style of Jan van Goyen from Haarlem, especially in the treatment of the water reflecting the grey clouds above. This technique is based on slight variations in tone and enhances the sense of depth of the all picture. Close to van Goyen's style is also the reddish brown ground of the buildings of both river banks, a tonality echoed in the small embarkations of the foreground.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on oak panel (panel split horizontally).
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'View of Old London Bridge from the West', Claude de Jongh, 1650
Physical Description
View of the Old London Bridge (completed in 1209 and demolished in 1831) from left to right, from the northern bank, with The Tower, St Magnus's Church, and on the Bridge: the Square, Nonesuch House (built 1577-79) near the middle, next to it the drawbridge; Southwark Gate, with traitor's heads; on the south bank: St Olave's Southwark, Southwark Cathedral.
Dimensions
  • Approx. height: 71cm
  • Approx. width: 126cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'C d Jongh 1650' (Signed and dated by the artist, lower left)
Object history
Purchased, 1860



Historical significance: De Jongh was a member of the Utrecht Guild of St Luke, and also connected with Haarlem around 1630 when a new style in landscape painting was created under the influence of Esaias van de Velde and Jacob van Ruisdael. His oeuvre includes various views of cities, among which London views are the most famous. He was a prolific draughtsman and many of his drawings are now preserved in several British institutions. Stylistically, his work is close to that of contemporary painters from the Haarlem school such as Esaias van de Velde or Jan van Goyen. His drawings of English subjects - largely of Kent and London - are dated 1615, 1625, 1627 & 1628, but there is no evidence that he was ever resident in this country. His paintings of England are based on the drawings which were probably made on short sketching tours.



The painting gives a broadly accurate representation of Old London Bridge, but compared to the more precise engravings by J. C. Visscher (View of London, 1616) and Hollar (Bird's-Eye view of London from Bankside, 1647, repr. A. M. Hind, Hollar, 1922, pls. 15-20A), various inaccuracies have been noted:

(1) The drawbridge is at the 9th instead of the 7th arch; (2) the arches are shown as rounded and regular, in fact they were pointed and uneven in height and width; (3) the starlings, on projecting piles, are depicted too small and are insufficiently conspicuous.

There are several versions of this view of London Bridge by de Jongh, all based on a drawing of 1627 in the Guildhall Library (Hayes, op. cit., figs. 4-5; Home, 1931, p. 33). The earliest, dated 1630, is that in the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood (Hayes, op. cit., figs. 2, 6, 7). The others, which include the addition of Southwark Cathedral on the right, are all, like 7129-1860, considerably later, probably dating from ca. 1650:

(1) Collection Ellis & Smith, 1928 (H. Gerson, Ausbreitung der Holländischen Malerei, 1942, pl. 33).

(2) Lord Northbrook collection, dated 1649 or 1650.

It seems likely that de Jongh based the later oil paintings on the drawing of 1627, without further reference to the actual site, for they all contain the block of houses on the north side of the bridge that were destroyed in the fire of February 1632-33. Stylistically, 7129-1860 is more uniform in tone than the Kenwood version and more reminiscent of Jan van Goyen.
Historical context
Landscape paintings were extremely popular during the 17th century and increasingly encompassed a variety of forms and genres. Townscape arose as a distinct category of painting and by the mid-17th century Dutch painters were notably varied in the way they executed views of Dutch towns. Townscape is a partly stylistic designation of the subject that became prevalent around 1650, expressing civic pride in towns' growing social importance and economic prosperity.



Old London Bridge - completed in 1209 and demolished to make way for the new bridge in 1831 - bore a double line of houses from end to end. In the variety and splendour of its buildings, which included two great gateways and a two-storey chapel, it surpassed its rivals, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Pont au-Change in Paris. The principal landmarks seen in 7129-1860 are, from left to right, on the northern bank: The Tower, St Magnus's Church; on the Bridge: the Square, Nonesuch House (built 1577-79) near the middle, next to it the drawbridge; Southwark Gate, with traitor's heads; on the south bank: St Olave's Southwark, Southwark Cathedral.
Production
Close to Haarlem school
Subjects depicted
Places Depicted
Summary
Claude de Jongh (ca. 1600-1663) is consider as a minor Dutch master but he achieved very refined cityscapes close in style to the Haarlem school albeit he is recorded as a member of the Utrecht Guild of St Luke from 1627. This shows the complex relationship between pictorial schools within the Netherlands, a nation which small territory facilitates the merging of different artistic trends.



This painting is one of the three versions of the London Old Bridge depicted by Claude de Jongh in 1650. They are variante of his early masterpiece Old London Bridge (1630) preserved in Kenwood House. This early painting is based on a series of drawings (now in the Guildhall Library) that de Jongh could have executed during his stay in England in the early1620s. The same drawings may have served for the later series of the subject. The V&A painting presents some familiarities with the more recent style of Jan van Goyen from Haarlem, especially in the treatment of the water reflecting the grey clouds above. This technique is based on slight variations in tone and enhances the sense of depth of the all picture. Close to van Goyen's style is also the reddish brown ground of the buildings of both river banks, a tonality echoed in the small embarkations of the foreground.
Bibliographic References
  • Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 160-1, cat. no. 197.
  • M.H. Grant, Old English Landscape Painters, 1925, pl. 5.
  • G. Home, Old London Bridge, 1931, pp. 30f., ill. p. 33.
  • J. Hayes, 'Claude de Jongh', Burlington Magazine, XCVIII (1956), p. 11, fig. 15.
  • Marten Jan Bok, 'Claude de Jongh, "Painter, Sorely Incapacitated in His Arms": A Study of His Milieu', Hoogsteder-Naumann Mercury, 10 (1989), p. 42, fig. 1.
  • Christopher Wright, Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century Images of a Golden Age in Britain Collections, London, 1989, p. 209.
  • London Bridge in Art, London, Guildhall Art Gallery, 1969
Collection
Accession Number
7129-1860

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record createdMay 9, 2007
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