ArtOdysseys: Aert van der Neer—Dutch painter of the moonlight
|"River Scene with a Bonfire, Moonlight." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.|
Welcome to the October ArtSmart Roundtable—a company of travel bloggers passionate about discovering art while traveling around the world. Each month, we highlight a particular theme and October is dedicated to the "artist." It's no secret that I love the Dutch masters from Avercamp to Vermeer but my artist of the month is one whom captured my imagination during my last visit to the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, Netherlands—Aert van der Neer. Up until then, I knew very little about this artist of the Dutch landscape but while examining Vermeer's "View of Delft" and Avercamp's "Winter Scene"—among others, Van der Neer's winter scenes and moonlit landscapes drew me in so much so that I needed to find out more about this Dutch master of the moonlight. Like Vermeer and Avercamp, Van der Neer captured life in the Netherlands but it was his passion for the nighttime and frozen winters that's unique and through his paintings, he invites you to glimpse a moment frozen in time. Let's go in for a closer look at some of his finest work and at the end of this article, be sure to check out the contributions by the artists of the roundtable!
|"Winter Scene with Skaters." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.|
|"Landscape, Day." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.|
Born c. 1604, Aert (Aernout) Van der Neer was a Dutch Golden Age (predominantly 17th century) painter renowned for his moonlit landscapes and winter scenes with ice skaters. While little is known about his early childhood and formative years, he did grow up in the south of the Netherlands where he presumably trained with another Dutch Golden Age landscape painter, Rafaël Govertsz Camphuysen who inspired much of his earlier work along with Avercamp.
|"Frozen River Scene." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.|
In 1629, Van der Neer married Rafaël's sister, Lysbeth, and had six children, one of whom achieved artistic renown on his own—Eglon van der Neer. Van der Neer, the elder, went on to hone his craft until something spectacular occurred in the early 1640s. Van der Neer developed a fascination with light, the quality of light found only under a moonlit sky, the setting sun or the burning glow of nearby bonfire. This fascination became his obsession and soon he realized he had a talent for rendering dramatic scenes of the night. His newly ignited passion created some of the most striking settings of his native Dutch countryside and eventually earned him the respect and recognition of a Dutch master landscape painter of the Golden Age. A little did-you-know fact about the scenes depicted in Van Der Neer's landscapes—most of them are not real, figments of Van der Neer's fanciful imagination at play.
|"Landscape at Sunset." 1650. Photo: Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery.|
|"Skating Scene - Figures on a River Flowing Though a Village." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.|
|"Landscape, Moonlight." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.|
Through the end of the decade and the next, Van der Neer proved to be a prolific artist producing many nocturnal paintings but in 1959, his meager earnings were just not enough to sustain a living. Van der Neer, like many starving artists, needed to supplement his income so he opened an Amsterdam tavern—"de Graeff van Hollant" in 1659. Unfortunately this new venture failed three years later and by the time Van der Neer died, he was impoverished, but his legacy lives on—four centuries later!
|"Landscape with Windmill." 1646. Photo: WikiMedia.org.|
|"Canal in Winter." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.|
Much of Aert van der Neer's work can be viewed at the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery in West Yorkshire, UK; National Gallery in London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—among others. I hope you enjoyed this journey to Van der Neer's 17th-century Netherlands!
- Albrecht Durer's Works on Paper by Erin from ASenseOfPlace.com
- Jacob Lawrence by Christina from DayDreamTourist.com
- Romero Britto by Jenna from ThisIsMyHappiness.com
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