Skip to main content

Full text of "Dutch Landscape Etchers of the Seventeenth Century"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 

From the 

Fine Arts Library 

Fogg Art Museum 
Harvard University 




































TO M. P. A. 


The Van db Veldes 

The Etchings op Jacob Ruysdael .... 36 

The Road to Rome 58 

Zeeman and Backhuysen 86 

Antoni Waterloo Ill 



AFann 7 

Winter Landscape 9 

Skaters 11 

Jan van de Velde 

.Summer. From "The Four Seasons" 
Earth. From "The Four Elements" 
Air. From "The Four Elements" . 
Noon. From "Times of the Day" . 
Night. From "Times of the Day" . 
Noon. From "Times of the Day" . 
Evening. From "Times of the Day" 

WHiLEM van de Velde 


Shipping Scene 

Adriaen van de Velde 

Ox and Sheep 




Jacob Ruysdael 

TheWkeatfield . . . , 40 

The Little Bridge 42 

The Three Oaks 46 

Two Peasants and Their Dog 48 

Drawing for "The Travellers" 51 

The Travellers 52 

Landscape with Thatched Cottage and Pig-Pen . . 54 



Hercules Seghers 

Rocky Landscape with a Eiver and a Carriage Road 62 
Tobias and the Angel 63 


Flight into Egypt 64 

Hendrik Goudt (after Adam ElsheiMer) 

Tobias and the Angel ........ 66 

Adam Elsheimer 

Nymph with a Tambourine . . . . . .68 

Jan van de Velde (after Moses van Uytenbroeck) 
Tobias and the Angel 70 


View of the Temple of Vesta and Grotto of Neptime, 
atTivoh 72 

Claude Gell^e 

Le Bouvier 74 

Dance by the Waterside 76 

The Herd in the Storm 78 

Jan Both 

Landscape with an Ox-Cart 80 

The Boat-Joumey 82 

Stone Bridge (Ponte Molle, near Rome) ... 84 

Reynier Zeeman 

Skating Scene 87 

Entrance to the Faubom'g St. Marceau, Paris . . 89 


Marine, with a City in the Background ... 91 

• • 




Marine Piece 93 

De Stadts-Herbergh 95 

Old Gate of St. Bernard, Paris 97 

Heyligewechs Poort 100 

A Sea-Port 102 

Plaice Boats or Pinkies 105 

The Blockhouses 107 


Marine Piece 109 

Antoni Waterloo 

View of a City in Holland 115 

Steeple of a VHlage by the Sea 117 

The Little Hamlet 119 

Two Hunters Resting 121 

The Great Mill 123 

Large Linden in Front of the Inn 125 



Y aim in the present volume is to trace 
the development of Dutch landscape 
etching in the seventeenth century, at 
a period when the art first attained full 
and characteristic expression. No other book, in Eng- 
lish, covers quite the same ground; for Mr. Binyon, in 
his excellent monograph,^ devotes relatively little space 
to the consideration of landscape, in which the Dutch, 
despite the earlier etchings of Diirer, Altdorf er, Hirsch- 
vogel and Lautensack, in Germany, were real pioneers, 
and displayed their abilities to greatest advantage. 

One important omission will be noted — that of 
Rembrandt, the greatest of all landscape etchers; but 
Mr. Binyon, having already contributed an apprecia- 
tion of Rembrandt's landscape etchings to The PrirU- 
CoUecior^s Quarterly (for which these articles of mine 
were written), it seemed unnecessary to include him in 
the series. After all, it is not Rembrandt, but certain 
other artists of whom I have written in the following 
pages, and particularly the Van de Veldes, concerning 
whom there has been a dearth of information and ap- 
preciation in English, and it is they, in any case, who 
would give to the volume whatever interest and value 
it may be found to possess. 
As the footnotes will indicate, I am indebted to many 

* DvJUh Etchers of the 17th Century. By Laurence Binyon. The 
PoftfoliOf No. 21, September, 1895. London. 


previous writers, principally French, on individual 
artistSr I am, likewise, greatly indebted to the officers 
of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for the courtesy 
which enabled me to work there continuously for many 
months, and to avail myself freely of its rich resources, 
both in prints and in books. To my friend, Mr. FitzRoy 
Carrington, Curator of the Print Department, and Edi- 
tor of the The Prin^Collector^s Quarterly, I am, as al- 
ways, under deep obligation both for general sugges- 
tion and for detailed criticism. He has ever been, to 
his contributors, collaborator rather than editor, and 
now that the Quarterly — the one publication in the 
world devoted exclusively to the study of prints — has 
been suspended **for the period of the war,'' I cannot 
forbear to point out how much all who are interested 
in etchings and engravings owe to his active and dis- 
interested efforts on behalf of these arts. 

W. A. B. 
Washington, D.C. 
5th May, 1918. 


THE cruelties practised by the Spaniards upon 
the inhabitants of Flanders in the latter part 
of the sixteenth century, and especially upon 
members of the various Protestant sects, had 
the effect of driving thousands to seek refuge in the 
cities to the north, then engaged in waging their des- 
perate war for freedom from foreign oppression. Hol- 
land's gain from this great movement of immigration 
is incalculable. In return for the shelter she afforded 
the refugees, she gained thousands of excellent, frugal, 
thrifty, hard-working citizens, who were to contribute 
most effectively throughout the following century to 
the development of the wealth of their adopted coun- 
try. And not material wealth alone. These Flemings, 
heritors of an ancient civilization, brought with them 
a cultural strain of the highest value and importance. 
Numberless artists destined to take high — in some 
cases the very highest — rank in the annals of Dutch 
art, sprang directly from this superior stock, and not 
the least among these must be regarded the van de 
Veldes — that remarkable family which, in two gen- 
erations, numbered no fewer than five members whose 
achievements cannot be overlooked in even the most 


summary survey of the history of Dutch painting and 

The van de Veldes were natives of Antwerp, from 
which city they had fled, with so many of their fellow- 
citizens after the memorable siege and sack of 1576 — 
" The Spanish Fury," as it is called in history. The head 
of the family, a simple nail-maker, settled at Rotterdam 
with his son, Jan the Elder, who found employment 
there as a schoolmaster and as a calligrapher. Through 
his skill in the latter capacity, he soon made a place for 
himself in the community; for the elegancies of hand- 
writing were highly esteemed at that time in Holland, 
where, as in China and Japan, calligraphy was regarded 
as an art and served in some sort as an apprenticeship 
to painting. Expositions and contests were often or- 
ganized among its most distinguished representatives; 
and at one of these, instituted in Rotterdam, in 1590, 
patents conferring the degree of maitres de la plume 
couronniSj were awarded the winners. M. Emile Michel, 
author of the excellent monograph^ on the van de 
Veldes, suggests that possibly Jan van de Velde may 
thus have distinguished himself on this occasion, for his 
proficiency was remarkable, calUgraphy in his case some- 
times reaching the dignity of design, since, in his capi- 
tal letters, this " virtuoso of the pen " often incorporated 
various ornaments, such as people, animals, a swan with 
wings outspread, or a ship with swelling sails. In any 
event, his reputation was sufl[icient to justify his publish- 
ing, in 1604, a collection of handwriting models under the 
Latin title: "Delicise variarum insigniumque Script u- 
rarum, autore Veldio, Scriptore celeberrimo." This edi- 

^ Lea Van de Velde. i^mile Michel. Illustrated. Paris; L.Allison 
et C*«. 1892. (Les Artistes C61^bres.) 


tion, which appeared simultaneously in Haarlem and 
Amsterdam, must have been very successful, since in 
1605 it was followed by another edition, published in 
Haarlem, in Dutch. In it appears the author's portrait 
engraved by Jacob Matham who, as we shall see later, 
was to be the master of Jan's second son, Jan II, him- 
self an engraver and etcher. The following year, 1606, 
still another edition appeared, — this time in Rotter- 
dam, — with German text and imder the name of 
"Hans von dem Felde." 

Jan must have made money as well as fame in the 
pursuit of his dual profession. In 1605 he bought a 
house in Rotterdam. This, however, he sold again in 
1620 and went to live in Haarlem, where he also opened 
a school, largely patronized, no doubt, by the sons and 
daughters of his former fellow-citizens of Antwerp, 
who were found there in even greater numbers than in 
Rotterdam. It was in Haarlem that he died three years 
later, — in 1623, — his funeral expenses amounting to 
eighteen florins — a considerable sum for that period; 
and it was, too, in that city, then so filled with artists, 
that, in the words of his biographer, "the sons of the 
calligrapher felt the call to a vocation higher than their 

Although complete evidence is lacking, it appears 
highly probable that, according to the information fur- 
nished by Houbraken, Esaias, Jan II, and Willem I were 
the sons of Jan I, and not only were all three des- 
tined to be artists, but one — Willem I — was to give 
the Dutch school, in his sons, Willem II and Adriaen, 
two of its most distinguished masters. 

Esaias, Jan van de Velde's eldest son, was born in 
Amsterdam about 1590, which would make it appear 
that the calligrapher must have resided for some time 
in that city, where he had a brother, Anthonie van de 
Velde, a painter. However this may be, by 1610 Esaias 
was already established in Haarlem, where he had be- 
come a member of the Reformed Church and where, a 
year later, in 1611, he married a young woman, Cate- 
lina Maertens, whose family, refugees like his own, hailed 
from Ghent. 

It is probable also that Esaias van de Velde served his 
artistic apprenticeship in Haarlem, where opportunities 
for instruction were at that time not lacking. It was at 
Haarlem, for example, that, in conjunction with van 
Mander, two artists, younger than he, but already 
famous, — Goltzius and Cornelissen, — had opened a 
studio in which they made their pupils draw from the 
best models and copy rare casts of antique statues. 

"But it was not in this direction that Esaias felt him- 
self drawn. Instead of following the academic doctrines 
and devoting himself to the pompous compositions that 
delighted the ItalianisantSy he inclined towards those 
simpler subjects that nature, with its inexhaustible 
wealth, offered him at every step. Besides, there began 
to be felt, as it were, a breath of new life; and, after hav- 
ing played a decisive r61e in the history of the freeing of 
the nation, Haarlem was thus called upon to assure its 
artistic emancipation. . . . Hals, scarcely ten years older 
than van de Velde, was then just arriving at the summit 
of his fame; and his love of nature, the freedom and the 
precocious certainty of his execution, were all the more 


striking because of the contrast they presented with the 
academic traditions that had hitherto prevailed. By his 
side, while drawing inspiration from his swift and ani- 
mated method of execution, Esaias conserved his en- 
tire originality; and, in a more modest sphere, by his con- 
sistent determination to treat only subjects taken from 
the familiar life and natural aspect of his country, he 
played an important part in forming the Dutch school, 
and fixing its character." ^ 

From 1612 Esaias belonged to the Guild of Saint Luke, 
and in 1617 he was admitted to the Chamber of Rhet- 
oric of the Wyngaardrankerij of which Frans Hals and his 
brother Dirck were the same year elected honorary mem- 
bers. He moved almost immediately to The Hague, how- 
ever; for the following year, 1618, his name is found on 
the rolls of the Guild of that city. Perhaps, it is sug- 
gested, he may have been attracted there by the pres- 
ence of the art-loving warrior. Prince Maurice, of whom 
he gradually became the favorite painter. On the death 
of Maurice he continued to enjoy the favor of his suc- 
cessor. Prince Frederick Henry, who displayed a still 
more marked taste for the fine arts, and he painted many 
pictures representing military incidents and scenes of 
court life for this patron. Of these the most important, 
perhaps, is the Surrender of Bois-le-Duc (1629), which, 
painted in a mood of patriotic fervor, shows the 
Spanish garrison evacuating the town, in great haste 
and disarray. 

A year after painting this picture, Esaias van de 
Velde, scarcely forty years old, and in the full ma- 
turity of his talent, died at The Hague, where he was 
buried on the 18th of November, 1630. With him dis- 

1 Les Van de Velde. 6mile Michel. P. 10. 


appeared one of the most memorable artists of the 
initial period of the Dutch school, belonging as has been 
said, to that group of precursors who, with Mierevelt, 
Moreelse, Ravesteyn, Keyser and Molyn, found in the 
contemporary life and the natural aspect of their 
country, subjects for study to which they attached 
themselves exclusively, and which, through sheer force of 
sincerity and talent, they were able to render interesting. 

As a painter he covered a wide range. Historic scenes, 
"conversations," landscapes — every- vital interest of 
that time, every aspect of nature, found a place in his 
work. Nor was he a painter only. During his prentice 
days he acquired the craft of the etcher and engraver, 
and while yet at Haarlem pubUshed several plates, 
either after the works of his contemporary, Willem 
Buytewech, whose drawings resemble his, or after his 
own compositions. Here, as in his paintings, he found 
inspiration exclusively in the life about him. "Cos- 
tumes, diversions, memorable events, or slight incidents 
of daily life. Buytewech and van de Velde both alike 
record all that interested them, and their work forms for 
us to-day a sort of illustrated journal, equally precious 
from the point of view of art and of history." 

Thus one plate — among the first — shows a whale 
stranded on the beach at Nordwyck and surrounded by 
a crowd of curious spectators who have come from every 
part of the surrounding country to enjoy the spectacle. 
This cannot, however, have been so very unusual, since 
Matham had already recorded (1591) a similar incident 
near Katwyck, and a later engraving (1617), by Buy- 
tewech, shows a third dead whale somewhere between 
the latter place and Scheveningen. 

It was after a drawing by Buytewech that Esaias van 




de Velde etched the plate, very rare to-day, which pre- 
serves for us the memory of an assassination that made 
a great stir at the time, owing to the prominence both of 
the victim and of his murderers. The former was a rich 
Amsterdam goldsmith named Jan van Weely, who was 
also a painter and one of the most distinguished connois- 
seurs and collectors of the period. One day, when van 
Weely had come to The Hague to bring some jewels in- 
tended for the Court, a certain Jan van Parys, valet de 
chamhre, and his accomplice, Jan de la Vigne, cadet of 
Prince Maurice's guards, threw themselves upon the. un- 
happy merchant and cut his throat, in order to secure 
the jewels. Esaias' plate, divided into several compart- 
ments, reproduces diverse scenes connected with this 
brutal outrage: the death of Jan van Weely and the dis- 
covery of his body in a side street; the portraits of the 
two assassins, with their names; and finally their exe- 
cution at The Hague, in the presence of a great crowd. 

Later Esaias etched a plate showing the breaking of 
the dyke at Leek, in the outskirts of Utrecht, on the 
10th of January, 1624, which inundated a great extent of 
country, and whose effects were felt even in the streets 
of Amsterdam. 

"In these various works," writes M. Michel, "Esaias 
appears as a scrupulous observer of reality. However, 
his preoccupation with scrupulous exactitude is Uttle 
favorable to the artistic expression of the episodes he has 
treated and the very clear but somewhat dry notation 
to which he has recourse would give but a very insuffi- 
cient idea of his talent." 

Still, there is much that is delightful, even from the 
strictly artistic standpoint, in many of Esaias' plates, and 
especially in the earliest of them all, the series of little 




landscapes the motives of which are said to be derived 
from the country about the artist's home in the neigh- 
borhood of Haarlem. " Somewhat elementary " these mo- 
tives are, it is true. The tree forms, in particular, are rudi- 
mentary in the extreme, and the artist makes hardly any 
attempt to represent foliage. But there is a style, a dis- 
tinction, in the simple outline indications of this true ob- 
server, that is often lacking in the far more accomplished 
work of many of his successors. Moreover, the mere ab- 
sence of leaves does not really matter so very much after 
all, since this merely means the choice of one season 
instead of another, and Esaias van de Velde's plates 
always seem charged with the crisp, clear, wholesome, 
vigorous, and invigorating spirit of winter. In one he 
makes bare tree-tops toss and sway violently in a fierce 
wind that sweeps across the flat, unbroken Dutch fields, 
and in another he gives us one of those characteristic 
skating scenes that extend over the entire period of 
Dutch etching, and make us, through their suggestive 
Une, almost feel the cold, brittle texture of the ice, as 
well as hear the merry ring of the skates as all — small 
boys and sturdy burghers alike — skim lightly over the 
Smooth surface of the canals and frozen water-meadows. 
Surely Esaias van de Velde, while far from being one of 
the great etchers of Dutch landscape, is a worthy pioneer 
of the movement, and has in all his work truth, honesty 
of purpose, excellent feeling for design, and a certain 
quaint, homely charm, to commend him. 


The second son of Jan van de Velde, the calUgrapher, 
was also called Jan. He was probably bom in Rotter- 




dam between 1595 and 1597, but his father sent him to 
Haarlem to study with the famous engraver and pen- 
draughtsman, Jacob Matham, stepson of the still more 
celebrated handler of the burin, Goltzius. 

Three letters addressed by Jan the Elder, to his son 
during the latter's apprenticeship have been preserved 
— one from 1613, the other two from 1617 — and they 
are of the highest value and interest, not only because of 
the information they afford concerning the family of the 
van de Veldes, but also because of the light they shed 
on the manners and customs of the period. From Rot- 
terdam, where he was still living, the old schoolmaster 
sends his son good advice, and exhoits him to practise the 
severest economy. He does not want to cut down the 
term of Jan's apprenticeship, but this entails heavy sac- 
rifices, and there are times when the school brings in 
little money. He is anxious, therefore, that Jan, when 
not actually engaged in his studies or in helping his 
master, according to the terms of their agreement, 
should find leisure for some lucrative employment; 
but he dares not speak openly of this for fear it might 
be misinterpreted by Matham. Meanwhile he himself 
seeks to make a little money in Haarlem by sending 
to a friend there, — a schoolmaster like himself, named 
Gillam, — through his son, an album of handwriting speci- 
mens containing about one hundred sheets, for which he 
hopes to get one hundred florins. For he thinks a florin 
a sheet a very modest price to put upon his wares. 

With the news and remembrances of the family, he 
sends also from time to time to Matham's boarder a 
little money, new shoes to be called for at the boatman's, 
or a pair of sleeves made for him by his mother. She, to 
soften as far as she can the life of the exile, sends him 



"four florins and one sou," while awaiting his visit. 
Jan's prentice work is placed by his father, for trifling 
sums, it is true, "but something has to be sacrificed in 
order to become known, and later he will earn more. . . . 
Let him do his best to perfect himself in the meantime, 
seeking rather to progress in his art than to make money 
inunediately, without, however, neglecting the slight op- 
portunities that come to him." Then, after renewing his 
counsels on the score of economy, for "he has many ex- 
penses and business is bad," the good father insists upon 
the necessity of advancing in his studies, so as to be able 
to engrave his own compositions; ^* since it is better to 
invent than to copy others." He ends with a recom- 
mendation to his son to "fear the Lord and remain vir- 
tuous; in this way he will be happy and will be regarded 
with favor by God and all good people." 

These sage counsels were faithfully followed, and Jan II 
no doubt all his life adhered to the orderly and laborious 
habits thus contracted in his early years, or he could 
never have produced the vast amount of work executed 
by him. This appears to have been entirely, or almost 
entirely, as etcher, engraver and pen-draughtsman. For, 
while there are many drawings and numberless engrav- 
ings signed with his name, there are in existence to-day 
no paintings known certainly to be from his hand. 

It is above all as an etcher and engraver that he is 
remembered, and the catalogue^ of his work compiled 
by Franken and van der Kellen contains no fewer 
than five hundred pieces. All kinds of subjects are here 
represented : portraits, landscapes, allegories, scenes from 
contemporary life, illustrations for descriptive works, 

* UCEuvre de Jan Van de Velde. D. IVanken et J. Ph. van der 
Kellen. Amsterdam; Frederik MuUeret C^®. Paris; Rapilly. 1883. 



poetical compositions, fables, collections of songs like 
those of J. Starter or Brederoo — van de Velde refuses 
nothing. It is this scope that above all makes his out- 
put so interesting at the present day. 

Like EsaiaS; Jan is thoroughly of his time and of 
his coimtry, and, like a careful witness, he faithfully 
records every fact. Yet while he remained frankly 
Dutch, there are indications in certain of his plates that 
he may possibly have travelled beyond the confines of 
his own country. In a series of Months, dated 1618, 
and dedicated to his friend, the brother of Rubens' 
master, Pieter van Veen, Syndic of The Hague, himself 
a painter, the landscape of the month of October looks 
as if it might be a drawing from nature on the banks 
of the Rhine, with its castles and terraced vineyards. 
Those who contest this theory, however, like Franken 
and Michel, point out that these indications have no 
very marked character or precision. They incline rather 
to the theory that the artist, wishing to introduce some 
variety into his work, simply yielded to the "tempta- 
tion to show to the inhabitants of a flat country Uke 
Holland the mountainous landscape of the shores of the 
Rhine or the Moselle." 

A fortiori, the same argument applies to the theory, 
advanced by such good critics as Riegel and Bode, that 
Jan van de Velde went to Italy, with so many of his com- 
patriots at this period, and there worked directly under 
the eyes of Adam Elsheimer in Rome. But the Italian 
motives found in his work are, all told, Umited to two un- 
signed plates: the View of Torre di ConU and the Castello 
SanV Angelo, which are only copies of two large etch- 
ings by Willem Nieuwlant, and the two Views of Rome. 
These last, it is true, are signed and dated 1617 and 




1618 respectively. But they might have been inspired 
equally by the numerous prints of the Italianate school, 
— Goudt, Uytenbroeck, Lastman, the brothers Pjmas, 
and 'many others, — which van de Velde could have 
seen in the house of his master, Matham. 

The question remains of Elsheimer's influence, whether 
directly or indirectly exerted, upon Jan van de Velde's 
work, and more especially in those plates, either after his 
own designs or those of others, which show preoccupa- 
tion with luminous effects and with those strong con- 
trasts of light and shade, through which he became one of 
the immediate precursors of Rembrandt. But considera- 
tion of this point must be postponed till a future arti- 
cle, in which an attempt will be made to take up the 
whole subject of Elsheimer's influence upon his contem- 
poraries, and particularly upon the Dutch artists — 
painters and etchers — of the seventeenth century. 

Jan van de Velde's character and talent won him the 
esteem of his confreres and fellow-countrymen. In 1623 
he paid his homage to the city of Haarlem in the shape 
of several plates printed on satin, in honor of the Prince 
of Orange. In 1625 he again made the offer of a certain 
number of impressions of a set of twenty prints showing 
the Funeral of Prince Maurice ^ for which he had obtained 
from the States-General the year before the privilege for 
eight years. But apparently the printing, which was to 
have been supervised by Jacob de Gheyn, was not quite 
satisfactory; for not only was the offer not accepted, but 
van de Velde was enjoined to withdraw from sale those 
copies that had already been put in circulation. As a 
result of this decision, he doubtless gave greater care to 
this publication; for, in 1627, his request was granted and 
the sale of one of these sets is recorded. 







Meanwhile his talent brought him many private com- 
missions, and in his Description of Haarlem j published in 
1628, J. Ampzing boasts of the merits of his collaborator 
and his skill "which permits him to rival the strongest." 
It is known also that van de Velde instructed several 
pupils and that, in 1635, he figured among the commis- 
sioners of the Guild. Because of his sound taste and 
known impartiality he was even charged, in 1636, 
with Solomon Ruysdael and the engraver Cornelis van 
Kittensteyn, to appraise the pictures which formed part 
of a lottery organized by the Guild, and among which 
were three paintings by his brother Esaias. 

From this moment all trace is lost of him at Haarlem. 
At some time, for reasons unknown, he moved from that 
city to Enkhuysen, where he was still living in 1641. 
Misfortune seems to have overtaken him, however, for 
the life he led in this latter place was most precarious. 
He was obliged to sell his plates at a low price, and to 
execute works of large dimensions, to pay his most press- 
ing debts. He died before the middle of the following 
year, 1642, leaving a widow and a son, Jan III, who was 
not, however, an artist. 

In Jan van de Velde's landscape etchings, which are 
often as much the work of the burin as of the acid, and 
which often contain more or less woodenly drawn figures, 
we find much the same primitive quality as in those of 
his brother Esaias, if not quite the same style and dis- 
tinction. "It must be admitted, that the execution, 
often rather awkward, betrays insufficient study; that 
in general the trees are grossly indicated, either with 
dense ball-like foliage or else sticking straight up Uke 
aigrettes; that, when bare, they present, like Esaias', 
the appearance of coral branches; and that, finally, the 





dififerences in their foliage are painfully expressed by a 
hand that betrays its lack of experience. But the fa- 
ciUty, the spirit, the general aspect of the sketch made 
swiftly and without pretension, more than compensate 
for these imperfections of detail. One feels the circu- 
lation here of a new sap; and the sentiment of certain 
beauties of nature, till then imknown, justifies that 
ingenuous title, Regiunculae amcenissimaey which van 
de Velde himself gave these naive representations. 
Although decidedly crude, these attempts at least re- 
veal to us franker, more direct impressions of nature." 
Jan van de Velde was a very popular artist in his own 
day. The numerous editions which were printed of his 
MorUhSy his SeasonSj his Times of the Day, his repeated 
suites of little Landscapes, bear witness to the success 
which greeted these pubUcations. " Highly appreciated 
by his contemporaries, these collections, whose contents 
were without doubt much copied, helped to spread 
everywhere the taste for simplicity. With his talent, 
quite secondary though it was, the artist, at that date, 
played an important and useful r61e. In the period of 
confusion, of movements and strivings in every direc- 
tion, that marked the beginnings of Dutch art, when this 
art seemed still undecided as to its choice among the 
divers currents which solicited it, Jan van de Velde 
powerfully contributed to inspire it with the love of 
nature, and to show the entire sincerity which must be 
brought to its study. For this reason his own works hold 
worthily their place beside those by his brother artists 
which his burin reproduced." ^ 

* Les Van de Velde, iSmile Michel. P. 46. 









Willem the Elder, the last of the sons of Jan I, was 
born in Leyden, according to Houbraken, and probably 
of a second marriage; for a long interval separates his 
birth, in 1611 or 1612, from that of Esaias and of Jan II. 
Little information exists as to his early life, and it is 
merely known that he came, while still quite young, to 
Amsterdam, where he too embraced the career of an 
artist, though his talent took an entirely different bent 
from that followed by his two brothers. Even more than 
they he was to become distinguished through his skill 
as a pen-draughtsman — a skill which, as it were, formed 
a family tradition among the sons of the calligrapher of 
Rotterdam. Those ships, with spread sails, such as are 
found mingled with the ornamentation of Jan the Elder's 
capitals, became the almost exclusive subject of Wil- 
lem's art. He loved to observe them; and, by dint of 
studying them in the least details of their structure and 
rigging, he so thoroughly familiarized himself with their 
forms, that the knowledge and talent he displayed in 
their representation soon attracted the attention of am- 
ateurs, and even of the members of the Council of the 

The navy at this time had come to play a most im- 
portant part in the life of the Dutch nation. Freed from 
alien domination, the Dutch had greatly extended their 
foreign commerce, till they threatened to dispute the 
empire of the sea with the EngUsh, once their allies, now 
their jealous rivals. In preparation for the conflict which 
already appeared inevitable, Holland carefully built up 
her fleet. As it grew, the Admiralty felt the increasing 
importance of keeping exactly informed as to its com- 



8 X "- 



position, the changes that improvements in artillery 
from time to time rendered necessary, the state of each 
separate unit, and its seaworthiness. The precision and 
scrupulous fideUty of Willem's drawing, were just what 
were needed for this purpose. Thus, about 1661, on 
the demand of the Council of the Admiralty, Willem 
van de Velde was attached to its service, by virtue of 
a Commission of the States-General. A small boat, or 
gahot, placed at his disposal, made it possible for him to 
take up his position at the best points for the represen- 
tation of the different vessels in the reviews or evolu- 
tions in which they participated. 

The artist is said to have acquitted himself of this task 
with remarkable zeal and punctuaUty. Not content with 
following the pacific manoeuvres of the squiadron, this 
ancestor of the modern war correspondent even wit- 
nessed its engagements with the enemy, seeking to re- 
produce these in such a way as to afford his compatriots 
useful information for the study of naval tactics. 

It was thus that he was able to record some of the 
combats which, from June 11 to June 14, 1666, took 
place between the English and Dutch fleets, commanded, 
respectively, by Monk and de Ruyter, in the memorable 
"Four Days' Battle." Carried away by his zeal, van 
de Velde more than once ran serious risks during this 
campaign. It is even reported that, at the outset, he 
happened to be on board the flagship during the last 
meal of Opdam, the commander of the Dutch fleet, only 
a few minutes before the vessel blew up. 

The artist's reputation traveled far, and mention has 
been found in the archives of Genoa of several designs 
he executed for that maritime capital of Italy. Nat- 
urally his talent and his services to the Admiralty at- 



K oi the original drawing, ^X 7^6 incbee 
In the Royal Print Room, Berlin 

tracted the attention of the EngUsh; and, influenced no 
doubt, by the advantages they offered him, van de 
Velde decided to leave Holland and put himself in their 
pay. Perhaps Charles II had known him during his stay 
in Holland after the death of his father, and had 
there conceived the project of attaching the artist to 
his person. Whatever the motives that determined Wil- 
lem to expatriate himself, it is certain they were not 
those of treachery to his new masters. For, as the 
same authority points out, the charge brought against 
him by Horace Walpole that, in 1666, he led the Eng- 
Ush fleet into the island of SchelUng, and set fire to 
it at Bandairs, rests on no foundation of fact; for Wil- 
lem was still in Holland at that period. 

For the rest, it does not appear that his compatriots 
bore him any ill will for having thus abandoned them; 
for when, later, his son, Willem II, who, Uke him, was 
to spend a large part of his life in England, returned to 
Amsterdam, he was heartily welcomed and even re- 
ceived commissions from his fellow-citizens. After hav- 
ing been successively attached, as marine painter, first 
to Charles II, then to James II, Willem van de Velde 
died in London, in 1693, and was buried there in the 
Church of Saint James. 


Though many of his drawings were reproduced by 
others, Willem van de Velde, unlike his contemporaries, 
Zeeman and Backhuysen, who also made a specialty of 
ships and shipping, seems never to have produced any 
plates himself;' The same is true of his first son, Willem 
II, a much more considerable artist than his father, with 




whom, however, he became associated in the Admiralty 
Commission until he too went to England, where he re- 
mained to the day of his death, April 6, 1707. Willem's 
second son, Adriaen, the most distinguished, in many 
ways, of all the van de Veldes, was, however, an excel- 
lent etcher, and will always take high rank by reason of 
his admirable studies of animals in that medium. 

Adriaen van de Velde was born in Amsterdam in 1635 
or 1636. As the youngest member of such a family, he 
could hardly have hoped to escape an artistic career, 
even if he had not actually displayed marked talent 
and aptitude from the start. His uncles doubtless en- 
couraged his first attempts, and it is generally agreed 
that his precocity was extreme. At school his books 
were covered with sketches, and it is reported that, 
with colors borrowed from his brother Willem, he 
painted on the panels of his bed the picture of a 
Milkmaid^ that was long preserved in the family. 

His father, absorbed by the duties of his official posi- 
tion and thus imable himself to imdertake his son's 
artistic education, was obUged to choose another master; 
and, just as he had sent Willem II to study with the dis- 
tinguished marine artist, Simon de VUeger, so he appren- 
ticed Adriaen to Jan Wynants, who at that time enjoyed 
a great celebrity, and exerted considerable influence 
upon the development of landscape painting in the 
school of Haarlem. Possibly Adriaen may already have 
received in Amsterdam lessons from some other mas- 
ter; for he displayed such proficiency in his art that 
Wynants' wife predicted to her husband that "this 
student would soon surpass his master." However, 
far from conceiving any jealousy of him on this accoimt, 
the older artist was always delighted at his pupil's 


progress and maintained close personal relations with 
him, as friend and collaborator, till the latter's death. 

In Wynants' studio, Adriaen van de Velde had as 
a fellow-student the painter Philip Wouwerman, with 
whom, in spite of a difference of some years in their 
ages, he formed the closest friendship.' Following Wou- 
werman's example, Adriaen, eager to learn, instead of 
Umiting himself, Uke Wynants, to landscape alone, ex- 
tended the field of his studies. Deeply in love with 
Nature, he never tired of consulting her; and, in the 
lovely fields that he about Haarlem, he foimd diverse 
and seductive material. 

" The sea and its shores, the watercourses shaded with 
oaks and willow, the deserted dunes, the grassy plains 
or the secular woods, the farms and the villages with 
their population of peasants, shepherds or sailors, the 
herds of different sorts that give life to this admirable 
landscape — he had all these at his hand to choose 
from. All attracted him equally; and, with an equal 
sincerity, he attacked them one after the other." 

Several of Adriaen's works, or certain details of the 
buildings introduced by him into several of his paintings 
or etchings, might, as in the case of Jan II, incline us to 
beUeve that he had visited Italy. But, aside from the 
fact that noneof his biographers mentions such a voyage, 
these motives from Italian landscape remain too vague, 
too indeterminate, to be regarded, on the whole, as more 
than a tribute paid to the fashion of the time — a sort 
of pastiches inspired by Nicolaes Berchem or Carel du 

It is the same with certain academic conventions that 
occasionally crop out in his work. The fondness for 
ruins and for Biblical and mythological subjects that he 


shares with most of his contemporaries, is equally a 
concession to popular taste. He is most at his ease in 
those simpler subjects in which he derives his inspiration 
directly from what he sees, and takes his models from 
the life about him. 

"And if, even in these simpler subjects, he happens 
to introduce some stock idyllic element, it is not 
through affectation or mannerism. In depicting the 
delightful sides of pastoral life, he merely follows the 
bent of his talent and his taste. It is with the poetry, 
without effort, but not without grace, of a Dutch Theoc- 
ritus, that he shows us, beneath the dense shade, shep- 
herds and shepherdesses engaged in converse by springs 
and brooks, or dancing to the strains of some rustic 
music while, by their side, their flocks graze or drink the 
running water." ^ 

It is these animals that are the real persons of his 
pictures. The artist was thoroughly acquainted with 
their structure, and he neglected no means of informa- 
tion in order to acquire an even fuller knowledge. 
There is even reason to believe that he made certain 
models for his own use. M. Michel found in the Biblio- 
thdque Nationale in a dossier containing prints by or 
after Adriaen van de Velde, three photographs repre- 
senting, from as many different points of view, the 
statuette of a cow Ijdng down with one of her legs out- 
stretched, the other three drawn up under her. "The 
execution ... is at once broad, precise, and lifelike; 
the naively chosen pose, rendered very sincerely with 
perfect truth. The rectangular pedestal bears upon 
two of its faces the inscription in Dutch characters of 
the period: Adriaan van den Velde fecit 1659" 

* Les Van de Vdde. Emile Michel. Pp. 80-82. 


,L -. 

5 ^ « 

i - I 

I I ? 

: 'i I 

B I 

5 i s 

5 J i 

"If in the drawing of his animals van de Velde does 
not attain the scrupulous and learned precision of Paul 
Potter, he has certainly, with an equal sincerity and with 
an even greater ease and abandon, a sentiment of life 
which, if not more penetrating, is at least richer and 
more varied. He knows how to paint, not only the 
goats, sheep, dogs, horses, cows, that he excels in groupi- 
ing, but every living creature, and is able to give to 
each beast its special physiognomy.'' 

These characteristic traits of van de Velde's treat- 
ment of animal life in other media are to be found 
equally in his etchings. Bartsch counts about twenty- 
two of them dating from 1653 to 1670 — numbers 17 
to 21, executed with "a fine and rather wiry Une," in 
1653, at the age of seventeen or eighteen. Numbers 1 to 
10 are dated from 1657 to 1659, by which time the 
artist had acquired his full superiority. 

" One sees nothing to place above them," says Bartsch, 
"for correctness of drawing, truth of the animal char- 
acters, their attitudes, the just rendering of their mus- 
cles, and the careful perfection of the smallest de- 

"Who had taught Adriaen the art of etching?" asks 
M. Michel. We do not know. Neither his uncle Jan II 
nor his uncle Esaias was any longer alive in 1653 to 
teach him. "But the apprenticeship must have been 
an easy one in any case, for the work with him is never 
very complicated. It reduces itself to what is strictly 
necessary, and for the rest, full reUance is placed upon the 
science of the accomplished draughtsman. 

"In these etchings all is clear, inteUigible; the sil- 
houettes are indicated with perfect justice, and the 
effect is very frankly achieved in a few strokes. The 


first plate, dated 1653, and entitled The Shepherd, the 
Shepherdess and the Sheep (B. 17), still denotes some 
inexperience; the cow's legs are too long, her head is 
not Ufelike, the landscape is awkwardly drawn, and 
not without some stiffness. But the following year, 
beginning with the Bullock and Cowherd (B. 1), he is 
already the master. This time the drawing is absolutely 
correct yet perfectly free, the print is full of sunlight and 
color. The animals are shown to us surprised in their 
famiUar poses, in their true milieu, with their good, 
kindly faces, and the blissful nonchalance of beasts free 
and well fed."^ 

In short, though Adriaen van de Velde's etchings 
constitute but a small and relatively unimportant part 
of his work, they, by themselves, would entitle him to 
a high rank. "Van de Velde, if not a great artist, was 
a true one," says Mr. Laurence Binyon, "and his early 
death at the age of thirty-seven was a loss to the art of 

» Lea Van de Velde. Emile Michel. P. 86. 


FE of the most significant figures in the his- 
tory of Dutch landscape etching in the sev- 
enteenth century, is Jacob Ruysdael — one 
of the most original also. Who his master 
was — if, indeed, he had a master — is unknown, and it 
is difficult to discover a close relation between him and 
any of the etchers who preceded him, or who were his 
contemporaries. Rembrandt's friend, Roelant Rogh- 
man, etched a few plates somewhat in RuysdaeUs man- 
ner, notably the one entitled In the Seunig Wood; but, 
judging by the radically different character of by far 
the greater part of Roghman's work, that older artist 
would seem rather to have been affected by Ruysdael 
than to have everted any serious influence upon him. 
Thus, in a sense, Ruysdael stands alone, a soUtary figure 
in his art, as in his life. It is not too much to say that 
he broke completely with the tradition of the past, and 
inaugurated a wholly new era in the history of etching. 
This does not mean that there had not been a steady 
and continuous advance in the development of the art 
from the time of the van de Veldes. Pieter Molyn, 
Jan van Goyen, Swanevelt, Vlieger, Saftleven and his 
pupils, Jan van Aken and Jan Almeloveen, of the Rhine 


school, and finally Allardt van Everdingen, had, in 
their turn, all carried forward the technique of etching, 
refining its methods and extending its resources, so that 
the accomplished little plates of the last-mentioned 
artist are a very different matter from the crude, primi- 
tive, but always sincere and often spirited productions 
of Jan and Esaias van de Velde. But the gulf between 
Everdingen and these pioneers is scarcely greater than 
that between him and Ruysdael. Everdingen's line 
still bears some relation to the tight, graver-like manner 
of the old school. RuysdaePs, on the contrary, is pure 
etched line, loosely flowing and free — the line of a 
man who approached the special problems of the cop- 
per-plate from the point of view of the painter, rather 
than of the engraver, and who invented, for his own 
purposes of expression, a method with the needle at 
once absolutely individual, and absolutely idiomatic. 


Very little of Ruy^aePs solitary and disappointed 
life is definitely known. It is generally asserted, though 
there is absolutely no comtemporary evidence to sup- 
port the tradition that he was born in Haarlem, and 
the date of his birth has been variously conjectured 
from 1635 (which would cause him to have painted his 
first pictures at theage of twelve !) to 1625 or thereabouts. 
This last is the generally accepted opinion to-day. 

It seems fairly certain, however, that his father, 
Isaak Ruysdael, was a picture-dealer and frame-maker, 
and that Jacob himself was originally destined to be 
a doctor. He is even said to have practised medicine 
for a time, and to have performed several successful 


operations. If this be actually the case, Ruysdael was 
almost, if not quite, the first artist on record to aban- 
don medicine for art; but he was by no means the last. 
In our own time, the famous English etcher, Seymour 
Haden, was a surgeon, and did not begin to etch till 
relatively late in life. Ruysdael, on the contrary, must 
have exchanged the scalpel for the paint-brush and 
the etcher's needle at an early date, having as his mas- 
ter, according to tradition, the painter-etcher of the 
Italianate school, Nicolaes Berchem. 

Whether or not he was actually born there, all Ruys- 
dael's early work was done in or about Haarlem. He 
entered the Guild there in 1648, but about 1655 he re- 
moved to Amsterdam — presumably in the hope of 
finding a greater number of purchasers for his pictures. 
That his expectations on this score were disappointed, 
and that he was far from assuring his fortunes in that 
city where, in 1655, he obtained his citizenship, seems 
positive; for, in 1681, having as the result of a serious 
illness returned to Haarlem, his friends among the 
Mennonites, of which sect he was a member, made 
application to the burgomasters of Haarlem to procure 
for him a place in the local almshouse. There, so far 
as we can tell, he died on March 23, 1682, on which 
date the records show "the opening of a tomb for Jacob 
Ruysdael in the Church of Saint Bavon, on the south 
side, No. 177. Expense, 4 florins." 

The artist's life was very lonely and laborious, and 
it is to its somewhat tragic cast that is commonly 
attributed the spirit of pensive melancholy that per- 
vades his pictures; though this is, to say the least, a 
rather naive assumption, and doubtless his expression 
would have been the same had he dwelt in riches 


rather than in poverty. He never married, and for 
many years he supported his father, the frame-maker, 
who, on April 11, 1668, signed an instrument ceding 
to his son all he possessed or hoped to possess in the 
future, in payment of sums that his son had lent him. 
To provide for them both, Jacob had to work inces- 
santly, turning out pictures that were Uttle appreciated 
in spite of the great variety of motive that he intro- 
duced into them during the latter part of his Ufe, in 
order to make them more interesting and readily salable. 

"To have a complete collection of this master, rep- 
resenting him on every side,'* writes his cataloguer, 
Dutuit, "one must own a waterfall, the view of a plain, 
the interior of a forest, and a sea-piece." 

"But where did he find the scenes he painted?" asks 
the perambulatory heroine of Mr. George Moore's novel, 
"The Lake." "Not in Holland, surely," she exclaims. 
"There are no waterfalls nor mountains in Holland, 
nor, so far as I know, a forest; not a single rough wood 
did we see." 

So far as woods and forests are concerned, the mys- 
tery is easily enough solved; for no doubt, in Pater's 
words, "the eerie relics of the ancient Dutch wood- 
land" still existed in RuysdaeFs day. But the moun- 
tains and waterfalls have still to be explained, and 
they have puzzled other brains besides Miss Rose 
Leicester's. She hazards the theory that Ruysdael 
must have gone to Norway to paint, and the suggestion 
is ingenious, pointing straight to the true solution of 
the problem; for, though it is fairly certain that he 
never visited that country in person, he imdoubtedly 
did so through his imagination, stimulated to this flight 
by the paintings and etchings of an artist who had 


i *! 

* |2 

e it 
i 'I J 

actually been there, and whom Ruysdael found firmly 
established in Amsterdam, when he himself reached 
that city. This artist was AUardt van Everdingen. 

The story of Everdingen's life is highly colored with 
the spirit of adventure, in contrast with the dull, drab 
annals of most of his fellow-craftsmen, with the excep- 
tion of those who, like Swanevelt, Berchem, Jan Both, 
Breenbergh, and a few others, went to Italy to study 
and work. Born in 1621 and planning to become a 
marine painter, he embarked on a Baltic voyage, at 
the age of nineteen. The ship was wrecked, and he was 
cast away on the coast of Norway, where he remained 
for some time. Returning to Haarlem after four years, 
he began to paint pictures and make etchings of the 
wild and romantic Norwegian landscape, for which 
he had accumulated abundant materials in his note- 
books. His success, apparently, was instantaneous, 
and was repeated in Amsterdam, to which city he re- 
moved in 1652. The burghers in both places were fas- 
cinated by these representations of a country whose 
aspect presented such a striking contrast to the flat 
plains and low dunes of their own Netherlands. 

It was of these, under every light, as well as of the 
encircling sea and the over-arching sky, with its ever- 
changing cloud-architecture, that Ruysdael had already 
made himself the master, in a spirit of truth and of 
poetic insight that had been approached by none of 
his predecessors. But failure to appeal to the picture- 
buying public had had its effect upon him by this time; 
and, in his desperate need of money, he was not proof 
against the temptation to copy Everdingen, in order to 
steal a little of the latter's popularity. 

"From this period," writes Mr. Binyon, "dates the 




lamentable change in Ruysdaers art. The master, 
whose native independence is so marked that one is at 
a loss to name his probable teacher/ of his own free will 
and in sheer mortification of spirit at his want of suc- 
cess, forces himself from the meadows and dunes of his 
deUght, and invents, to win the patronage of the rich 
men of Amsterdam, a Norway of his own. A visit to 
North Germany, of which there is some evidence, helped 
his invention. Now begins the long series of waterfalls 
and pines and torrents so familiar in the picture gal- 
leries. It is not on them that RuysdaePs fame rests; 
on this ground Evferdingen, in spite of his inferior merits 
as a painter, remains his master." ^ 

Fortunately Everdingen's influence did not extend 
to Ruysdael as an etcher. All the latter's work in this 
field was done during the early years of his life, while 
still living in Haarlem, and painting in his simplest, 
sincerest, and most serious manner. Thus, while his 
etching is deficient in many technical respects, and may 
be of interest mainly as an illustration of his painting, 
it is at least an illustration of this painting at its best, 
and so bears a direct and significant relation to the 
essential genius of the artist in whom Dutch landscape 
painting reached the highest, purest, and noblest levels 
of its expression. 


Ruysdael's etchings are few in number. Bartsch 
enumerates seven only; and though Duplessis increases 

1 The similarity of Ruysdael's later painting style to that of Ever- 
dingen led early critics to see in the latter his probable master. 

* Dutch Etchers of the 17th Century. By Laurence Binyon. The 
PmifoliOt No. 21, September, 1895. London. 


this total to twelve, and Dutuit to thirteen, the addi- 
tions are mere examples of the master's prentice work. 
The others are rare also, especially in the first states, in 
which alone the beauty of the "artist's conception is to 
be fully appreciated; for, in several instances, the plate 
has been reworked by another hand, and crude, clumsy 
clouds have been introduced into the sky, intentionally 
left clear by the artist. ^' What a satire on this consum- 
mate master of clouds!" exclaims Mr. Binyon. 

Only one of RuysdaePs finished plates is dated. This 
is The Three Oaks, The Three Great Oaks, The Bouquet 
of Oaks, or Landscape with Three Large Oaks (B. 6), as 
it is variously called by different writers, which bears 
the date 1649. For this reason, and this alone, appar- 
ently, it was assumed by Duplessis that it was Ruys- 
dael's first successful etching — the first that he cared 
to publish — and this assumption has been more or 
less tacitly accepted by later writers ever since. In our 
opinion, however, priority seems much more properly 
and plausibly to belong, on purely technical grounds, 
to The Wheatfield (B. 5). Certainly it is difficult to ac- 
count for Mr. Binyon's suggestion that this plate alone 
may be a somewhat later work, coming, not only after 
The Three Oaks, but after all the others. Comparison 
of the line in The Wheatfield with that employed in these 
others, shows at once how niggling, uncertain, it is, in 
spite of the rich and warm effect of color achieved 
through it. RuysdaePs linework reaches its maximum 
of bold freedom and vigor in The Two Peasants and 
Their Dog (B. 2) and The Travellers (B. 4); bat, though 
far less powerful and suggestive in The Three Oaks, it 
has already reached a high point of beauty and balance; 
and it is making excessive demands upon one's credul- 


ity to ask him to believe that an artist hke Ruysdael 
could possibly return to a method so inferior as that 
employed in The Wkeatjield, after he had once aban- 
doned this for something better. Even the success in 
suggesting color is an added support to this view; for 
color suggestion, in any but a very general and ele- 
mentary way, is not a primary function of the engrav- 
ing arts, and the unique insistence upon it, in this plate, 
merely strengthens the impression that The Wheatfield 
was made while the artist was still experimenting with 
the new medium, and still under the domination of his 
aims and methods as a painter. 

Indeed, persistence of this same painter-like color 
quality, and preoccupation with tone and texture, 
though in a less marked degree, in the plate entitled The 
Little Bridge (B. 1), and particularly in the treatment 
of the large thatch-covered and ruinous farmhouse, or 
chaumiere, which nearly fills the entire left half of the 
plate, would incline us to place this plate also before 
The Three Oaks in strict chronological order, and be- 
tween it and The Wheatfield. In The Three Oaks the pre- 
occupation of the artist is no longer with color, tone, 
and texture, but with form and structure, and he has 
already begun to feel out for himself a pure linear 
technique adequate to express his ideas on these sub- 

At this moment, too, RuysdaePs interest begins to 
centre more narrowly and exclusively upon trees as 
his preferred material in the etching medium, and he 
produced, after The Three Oaks, — in precisely what 
order it is no longer essential to determine, since all 
share a common motive and method, — the three plates. 
The Two Peasants and Their Dog^ The Travellers, and 



The Cottage on the Hill (B. 3). Of the first, Koehler 
has given the following just and appreciative analysis 
and interpretation, which also seems to me to sum up 
better than anything else in EngHsh, the essential spirit 
of Ruysdael's art as an etcher. 

"There is no color in this plate," he says, "and little 
suggestion of light and shade, while the too obvious 
division of the landscape into two distances or planes 
is a positive fault. But the expression in the trees, the 
success with which their character is given, that is to 
say, the character of trees in general, their sturdiness, 
the evidence of their battles with the elements, the 
reaching out of their arms into the air (not merely 
masses of foliage which hide all structure), the roots 
as they wind about and cling to the earth, upholding 
the great masses above them with the strength of a 
giant — all these tokens of the mysterious inner Ufe 
of the tree are so forcibly and clearly put down, that 
they need no further help from color or chiaroscuro.'' 

The Cottage on the Hill, which essays a similar sub- 
ject, is less successful — a failure, in fact, as compared 
with the other, through the absence of an equally 
vigorous or characteristic suggestion of structure in 
the tree forms, and would seem Ukely to have been 
done before The Two Peasants, inasmuch as artists 
like Ruysdael, who are also thoughtful students of their 
art, make slow but steady progress, and tend to hold 
their ground once they have gained it. The Travellers, 
however, is a splendid exhibition of RuysdaePs fully 
developed power to treat his favorite material, and is, 
all things considered, the fullest, finest, and most effec- 
tive plate he produced. Not only is it well handled 
technically, but it is full of the most romantic charm 





and mystery; so that, as our eye penetrates the twilit 
gloom of this wild and intricate woodland, where the 
water stands in stagnant pools among the great roots 
of the oaks and beeches, superbly characterized, and 
makes the forest floor almost a morass, we identify our- 
selves imaginatively with the two travellers who are 
seen dimly making their way in the middle distance, 
and share directly in their adventure. 

An interesting drawing for this plate exists in the 
Berlin Museum, and shows us how seriously Ruysdael, 
in spite of his small accomplishment, numerically, took 
the art of etching. 

^'It would be a great mistake,'' writes Duplessis, 
'Ho regard RuysdaePs etchings as simple sketches des- 
tined to preserve momentarily the memory of a site 
before which the painter had stopped for an instant. 
There is more than an instantaneous impression in 
these etchings, and an artist no more improvises on 
the copper such plates as The Wheatfieldf The Three 
OdkSy or The Travellers, than he improvises a painting 
on the canvas. Just as before deciding to execute the 
Buisson or the Coup de Soleil, numerous preparatory 
studies from nature were indispensable, so in the same 
way, the artist had to work a long time before publish- 
ing etchings treated with this care, this precision.'' ^ 

There is another drawing, in Munich, which seems as 
if it might very well have been just such a preparatory 
study for The Three Oaks. Certainly, in this instance, 
the artist, in the finished etching, has departed widely 
from the original study — if such indeed it be — and 

* Eaux-Fortes de J. Ruysdael. Reproduites et puhliSes par Amand- 
Durand. Texte par Georges Duplessis, Conservateur-adjoint du de* 
partement des estampes d la Bihliotheque Nationale. Paris, 1878. 


it is interesting to note the eliminations and readjust- 
ments to which he resorted in order to bring his main 
tree-mass just where he wanted it on the plate, and to 
give it saUent reUef. "With the exception of some works 
of his earUest period/' writes Dr. Bode, "Ruysdael's 
landscapes are composed, and their inner construction 
carefully thought and pondered over." '^ This pon- 
deration is particularly evident in The Three Oaks — 
almost too evident, perhaps, so that its palpable cal- 
culation takes away something of the effect of force 
which it ought to give. Still it is a dignified, even 
noble, composition. 


Whichever one may decide, for various reasons, to 
accept as RuysdaePs first finished plate, final success, 
as usual, was preceded by a series of experiments and 
failures more or less complete. The first of all his at- 
tempts on copper was, according to Bartsch, that to 
which he gives the title. The Brook Running through the 
Village (B. 7), and which Dutuit calls Landscape with 
Winding Brook Bordered by a Row of Six Willows, But 
there is another — Landscape with Thatched Cottage 
and Pig-Pen (D. 9) — which bears the same date — 
1646 — and must therefore be permitted to dispute 
with the former its claim to absolute priority. 

These prints are extremely rare, two impressions 
of The Brook having been found in Vienna and Amster- 
dam, and a unique impression of the Landscape in 

* Great Masters of Dutch and Flemish Painting. By Wilhelm Bode. 
Translated by Margaret L. Clark. New York: Chas. Scribner's 
Sons. 1909. 





the Museum at the latter place. In both there are 
unmistakable evidences of inexperience. In the first, 
for example, the artist, feeling that his foreground was 
inadequate, attempted to extend it about half an inch. 
But apparently he experienced such difficulties in join- 
ing the new work with the old, that he gave up the task 
in despair, and abandoned the plate. In" the second, 
an attempt is made to render the tonalities of the sky 
and the effect of heavy massed clouds, in the spirit of 
a painter, by means of close hatchings of criss-cross 
lines, drawn more or less at random. The attempt was 
unsuccessful, but the plate remains interesting as a 
precursor for much modern work in the same manner — 
by such an artist as Rousseau, for example. 

Accidents of another sort occurred to mar still a 
third plate. Landscape with a Marsh — Pond, Dutuit 
calls it — (D. 7), which bears the date of 1647. Having 
been rubbed and scratched in its most important part 
— namely, the central clump of trees which, in their mass 
and contours, suggest those in both The Three Oaks 
and The WheatfiM, though technically the treatment is 
much closer to that in the second — Ruysdael aban- 
doned the plate as ruined beyond repair. 

In addition to the foregoing, Ruysdael etched three 
little plates in the shape of ovals (D. 10, 11, 12), the first 
two placed the long way of the plate, the third upright. 
It is interesting to note that, though this little composi- 
tion, which shows a group of willows beside a brook, is 
signed with the initials ** J. R.,'' Bartsch, who had seen 
only an imperfect impression, with the bottom torn off, 
attributed it to Everdingen, describing it as No. 3 in 
his catalogue of that artistes work, though there is little, 
surely, in point of style, to warrant such an ascription. 





Finally, there is a plate, A Study of Foliage, ex- 
isting in a single impression in the British Museum. 
It is described for the first time by Dutuit in the 
"Supplement" to his Catalogue (No. 13); but while 
he admits that it may be by Rujrsdael, he regards this 
attribution as doubtful. In any case, its interest Ues 
principally in RuysdaeFs preoccupation with a particu- 
lar phase of his favorite subject — fascinating because 
of the very difficulties attending it. His success has 
been variously estimated. Bartsch calls Rujrsdael's foU- 
age, a '* griff onnement spiritiiellement confus, composed 
of continuous zigzags, which serve marvellously to 
represent the truth of nature, whose forms ought not 
to be too clearly determined, if you wish to avoid the 
risk of falUng into what is called manner. There is 
nothing here of so-called method, but there is every- 
where a rare taste and charm." 

Mr. Binyon, on the other hand, feels that Rujrsdael 
"never succeeded in finding a quite satisfactory con- 
vention for foliage in etched line," but admits that "his 
continual feeling after truth of rendering, his sensi- 
tiveness, to which the forms of branch and leaf are al- 
wajrs fresh and wonderful, make his work alwajrs in- 
teresting. One has only to turn to the facile etchers of 
sylvan scenery, Waterloo or Swanevelt, or Van der 
Cabel, to realize the difference between the man who 
feels what he cannot perfectly master and the man 
who has perfect mastery of a facile formula." 

Comparison of Ruysdael with the greatest of all 
landscape etchers, Rembrandt, is of course inevitable, 


and is none the less interesting and suggestive because 
the conclusion, to the former's disadvantage, can be 
foreseen from the first. 

"They (RuysdaePs etchings) are remarkable no less 
for their grasp of masses of light and shade than for 
truth of line," writes Mr. Hind; "but let the student 
weigh his appreciation by comparing Ruysdael's Land- 
scape with Three Large Oaks, of 1649, . . . which is 
the very best of his work, with any landscape etching 
by Rembrandt between 1640 and 1645. The enormous 
strength and balance of the latter comes out with re- 
newed brilliance in the comparison." ^ 

This is quite true, though we should not agree to 
calling The Three Oaks the very best of Ruysdael's 
work; but it should be remembered at the same time 
that strength and balance were by no means the quali- 
ties at which Ruysdael primarily aimed. What he 
sought, above all, was a truth and fidelity to nature — 
to the externals of nature — far more detailed and inti- 
mate than we find in Rembrandt, and of an entirely 
different order. Rembrandt, an intellectual giant, 
stood, we may say, boldly and unabashed on an equal 
level with nature, meeting her freely face to face — 
even dominating her and subjecting her to the yoke 
of his creative intelligence. For Ruysdael, on the con- 
trary, shy and sensitive, nature was a miracle, a mis- 
tress, a mystery, and he brought to the study of her 
slightest manifestation, a mood of solemn awe, almost 
of religious worship and elevation. 

"So to know nature that we feel one with her," writes 

* A Short History of Engraving and Etching. By A. M. Hind. Of 
the Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum. Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin Co. 1908. 


Wilhelm Bode, ^^are irresistibly drawn to her, although 
this power appears so mighty that it almost crushes us 
to feel the soul of nature, was granted to few artists, 
as Hercules Seghers, and above all to Rembrandt. 
They describe to us her imposing powers and grandeur, 
Jacob Ruysdael the sublime equanimity with which 
she compels our submission and quiet admiration." 

Dr. Bode is writing primarily of Ruysdael's paintings, 
but what he says applies with equal truth, in their de- 
gree, to his etchings as well. Certainly nobody else — 
not even Rembrandt — has given the world so pro- 
found an impression of the mystery, the aloofness, the 
remote inner life of nature, in certain aspects, as we get 
from these few plates which, with all their imperfec- 
tions, must ever remain among the most interesting 
productions of the etcher's art. 


AURICE BARRfiS has a delightful pas- 
sage in one of his essays, where he pictures 

Mthe youthful Claude setting forth upon the 
road that led from his native Lorraine, to 
the Eternal City. Callot, too, took the road to Rome 
from the same province; and throughout the seventeenth 
century, young men, eager to lead the life of art, sought 
that city which, in addition to its other and older glories, 
had become the art centre of Italy. To be sure, the Ital- 
ian painting of the period offered but a faint reflec- 
tion of its former splendour. The artists who followed 
Raphael, and who had already reduced to a formula his 
methods and those of Michelangelo, were Eclectics and 
Academicians — the pale epigoni of the past. Still, for 
better or wotse, they were the sole heritors of a great 
tradition, and it was inevitable that those who had 
come, however little, under the spell of the Latin spirit, 
as expressed in painting, should seek there the stream 
of inspiration at its source. 

Also, more than any other European capital, Rome 
had a great, cultured, art-loving public. If it had itself 
ceased to be creative in the full sense, it had, at least, 
carried refinement of taste to the last degree. It was the 


home of the princely and ecclesiastic amateur, as well as 
of the artist, and the former was most munificent in his 
patronage of the latter. If one could paint pictures to 
please the Romans, he could sell them, too, and recogni- 
tion there meant, naturally, recognition in every lesser 
capital of Europe. No wonder, therefore, that the young 
provincial was tempted to come and try his fortune in 
Rome; and he came in great numbers, from every corner 
of western Europe — even from those remote regions of 
the Low Countries, protected by dykes from the hostile 
onslaughts of the North Sea, which had hardly been 
heard of till towards the end of the sixteenth century, 
when the boorish Dutch burghers and uncouth fisher- 
folk surprised the world by their desperate resistance 
to the imperial power of Spain. 

Dutch etchers, as well as painters, began taking the 
road to Rome from the very beginning of the great 
period of Dutch art. Indeed the Dutch etchers of the 
seventeenth century may be roughly divided into two 
classes: those who stayed at home and worked, in the 
main, from native materials, in a national or traditional 
manner, and those other — a smaller, but by no means 
inconsiderable group — who, going to Italy, remained 
there a longer or shorter period, and, affected to a greater 
or lesser degree by the foreign influences with which 
they came in contact, helped to establish a second, or 
Italianate, tradition in the Dutch landscape etching of 
the period. 

In regard to some of the earlier men, it is at times dif- 
ficult to say whether they themselves actually visited 
Italy, or whether they were simply influenced by the 
work of others who had been there and returned with a 

new message to their fellow-countrymen. This, as we 

« • 


have seen, is the case of Jan van de Velde. ^ It is also the 
case with the artist who may, perhaps, be called the 
pioneer of Dutch landscape etching, and who was cer- 
tainly one of the most important predecessors of Rem- 
brandt — Hercules Seghers. 

Seghers, who was born about 1590, and died in 1645, 
presents a soUtary , enigmatic personality, of whom little 
is known. A mystery hangs over the man, and extends 
to his landscape material as well. Much of this, rugged 
and mountainous, bears no relation to the level plains of 
the Low Countries. Indeed, it is difficult to identify it at 
all, geographically. Yet somehow it seems too closely 
observed, too faithfully and directly rendered, to be 
wholly fantastic. 

'*If then," asks Mr. Binyon in his "Dutch Etchers of 
the Seventeenth Century," "it was actual scenery that 
Seghers etched, where is that scenery to be found? It is 
certainly not the Alps, and though one or two plates 
suggest the Tyrol, the landscape is most like in charac- 
ter to the Karst district on the eastern shores of the 
Adriatic. One of the etchings might almost stand for 
the rock-surrounded plain of Cettinje, in Montenegro, 
though to infer that Seghers travelled to so remote a 
country would be a wild conjecture." 

Yet not so wild, perhaps, after all. The capital of 
Montenegro is only a few miles inland, up the Black 
Mountain, from the Bocche di Cattaro; and, as Cattaro 
and Ragusa (whence is derived the word "argosy") 
were great commercial ports in the sixteenth century, it 
is by no means beyond the bounds of possibility that a 
citizen of a conmiercial country, like Holland, should 

1 "The Van de Veldes." By William Aspenwall Bradley. The 
Print-Collector* 8 Quarterly, February, 1917, p. 70. 


have visited one or the other, or both, and explored the 
** Hinterland." Or he might even have suffered ship- 
wreck on the rocky Dalmatian or Albanian coast, in 
which case his experience would merely have paralleled 
that of Allardt van Everdingen, cast away on the coast 
of Norway. 

Seghers produced a large number of plates, many of 
them in color; but he apparently took few impressions, 
for his prints are rare and, for the most part, safely stored 
away in the great museums of Europe. The whole body 
of his work, however, has been admirably reproduced 
by the Graphische Gesellschaft, so that the student in 
this country is able to study, practically as well as in 
the original, the etchings of this remarkable artist. 

When, at Seghers' death, his effects were sold, Rem- 
brandt bought one of his plates, Tobias and the Angel j 
which he reworked, changing the subject to a Flight into 
Egypt. This plate of Seghers was directly imitated from 
a very popular painting of the same subject by Adam 
Elsheimer, which now hangs in the National Gallery, 
London. It seems quite likely, therefore, that, at one 
time, Seghers may have been a member of that cosmo- 
politan circle which gathered around Elsheimer, painter 
and etcher of Frankfort, and which is known to have 
included a number of Dutch artists, some of whom we 
shall have occasion to mention later. 

Elsheimer himself is one of the most interesting and 
significant figures in the history of modern art. 

"It is a remarkable spectacle," writes Vosmaer, the 
Dutch biographer of Rembrandt, "to see this German 
drawn towards the inevitable Rome, like a moth to the 
candle, and yet not burning his wing. He seems to have 
been a man of immovable originality, sometimes of a 












•a a 

melancholy humor, always serious, pensive of spirit, 
and secluded within himself. ... He married, had chil- 
dren, a number of pupils, many friends, complete suc- 
cess, his works brought large sums • — and all this could 
not satisfy him. What did this seeker aspire after? 
Possibly after a new way of painting, of which he fore- 
saw the wonder. Having at first painted large pictures, 
'he became,' says Sandrart, who knew him, 'the first to 
invent the genre of small scenes, landscapes, and other 

One day, says the same contemporary, he exhibited 
at Rome a small picture painted on copper. It repre- 
sented an angel guiding the young Tobias across a little 
stream while Tobias' dog jumps from stone to stone. The 
rising sun shines full into the faces of the figures, and the 
whole picture was so simple, so natural, so spontaneous 
in its action and its expression, besides being set in a 
landscape so charming and so gracious, that everybody 
in Rome was full of praise for this "new manner of 
painting of Adam of Francfort." 

What was this manner? Sandrart goes on to de- 
scribe it as "unctuous, full of marrow, brilliant, and 
masterly. It knows well how to manage the colors, and 
to keep together the great masses, how to round the ob- 
jects, and to preserve the half tints. This is what gives 
roundness and force, especially as the colors are not blue, 
lustreless, and pale, but fiery, hot, and true to life." 

But there was more than this technical novelty to 
account for the attraction that Elsheimer had for his 
contemporaries. His "new manner," as exemplified in 
the Uttle picture of Tobias and the Angela consisted 
also in this, says Vosmaer, '^that it dared to cast loose 
from tradition, from the convention of the grand style, 




from the plasticity of design borrowed from sculpture, 
from the conventional setting, the conventional ideal, 
and the conventional costume." 

Hitherto, in representing Biblical or mythological 
scenes, the artist had felt constrained to create ideal 
types, an ideal atmosphere. Elsheimer took his figures 
from real life, placed them in a familiar Italian landscape, ^ 
and thus enhanced the intimate charm, the human ap- 
peal, of the sacred or profane episode. This method also 
became that of Rembrandt, who unquestionably owed 
much to Elsheimer in this, as in other respects, notably 
the novel and daring use of subtly contrived contrasts of 
light and shade. There also Elsheimer was the pioneer, 
though it was Rembrandt who perfected the method, 
and carried it to its highest pitch as the expression of a 

Rembrandt never met the German master, though 
his master, Pieter Lastman, had studied with him in 
Rome, but that Rubens knew him and valued his work, 
is a matter of record. From a letter written by the great 
Flemish painter to Pieter van Veen, in June, 1622, we 
even learn something of Elsheimer's technical methods 
as an etcher. 

"I have heard," he says, "that you have found the 
secret of engraving on copper on a white ground, as 
Elsheimer used to do. To bite the plate with acid, he 
covered the copper with a white paste. He then drew 
with the point down to the metal, which is of a reddish 
color, and it looked as if he were drawing with red crayon 
on white paper. I cannot remember the composition of 
the white paste, though he communicated it to me." 

There has been considerable controversy as to whether 
Elsheimer's influence, as an etcher, was as great as his 



influence as a painter, Dr. Bode supporting the affirma- 
tive, Mr. Binyon the negative. Certainly the few plates 
that have come down to us bearing his name, are not of 
remarkable quaUty, though the small forest scenes, with 
satyrs and nymphs, have charm, and are strikingly sug- 
gestive and anticipatory of Claude. There may, how- 
ever, be others that Time will bring to light, and that 
will give a very different idea at once of his ability and 
his significance as an etcher. One such discovery was, 
indeed, made only a few years ago by the collector, the 
late M. Scheikevitch,^ who, buying, one day, a bundle of 
prints in a little shop on the qiuiis of the Seine, found 
among them a signed proof of an unknown etching by 

It was a night scene, the subject, a battery of three 
guns, placed in a forest, being curiously reminiscent of 
Diirer's single landscape etching. The Cannon. The guns 
had just been discharged, and the belching flames cast 
a strong glare upon a group of men standing to one side, 
while the dawn, just beginning to break, gave that odd 
effect of double Ughting, of which Elsheimer was so fond. 

But the curious thing about this plate, as M. Schei- 
kevitch discovered shortly afterwards, is its resem- 
blance to one of Jan van de Velde's, dealing with the 
same subject, in the same manner. Indeed, this resem- 
blance is so close as to make it certain, beyond a doubt, 
that IgniSj in van de Velde's series of "The Elements," 
is a direct copy from Elsheimer, though, Uke the others in 
the same series, it bears the initials " W. B.," standing 
for Willem Buytewech, an artist who suppUed many 

1 S. Sheik6vitch: "Adam Elzheimer; ses gravures originales; une 
eau-forte in6dite." Illus. Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Series 3, Vol. 25, pp. 
401-12. Paris, 1901. 


B -3 . 

designs for contemporary etchers, and even made some 
plates himself. 

It is hard to explain the motives of such a theft. 
M. Scheikevitch, writing in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts^ 
argues very plausibly, that a well-known name like Buy- 
tewech would be much more effective in selling the prints 
than that of an artist like Elsheimer, who, however 
honored by the artists themselves, had not as yet ac- 
quired a reputation among the print-buyers of the Low 
Coimtries. He offers also the interesting suggestion that 
van de Velde's plate. The Sorceress^ in the same style, 
was similarly *^ lifted" from Elsheimer, and identifies it 
tentatively with a plate called Maga^ which, from con- 
temporary accounts, Elsheimer is known to have exe- 
cuted, but of which no impression is now known to exist. 

Moses van Uijtenbroeck, another artist who made 
designs for Jan van de Velde to execute, was also 
strongly influenced by Elsheimer. One whole series of 
plates drawn by him, and etched by van de Velde, is 
devoted to scenes from the Ufe of Tobias — a favorite 
subject for all Elsheimer's friends and followers, and 
constituting, as it were, a sign manual of the school he 
established. Elsheimer's original picture, which started 
the whole movement, was, moreover, engraved by that 
picturesque artist and amateur, Hendrik Goudt, of 
Utrecht, Count Palatine, the artist's principal friend, 
patron, and protector at Rome. 


In spite of the powerful stimulus which he gave both 
to landscape painting and landscape etching in the 
Low Countries, Elsheimer himself was scarcely a land- 




scape artist in the stricter sense. In his work, as in that 
of most of his immediate followers, the landscape in- 
terest, great as this is, remains subordinate to that of the ^ 
figures. It is the story, the incident, the episode, that 
counts. But, at the same time, the landscape setting is 
given an importance, a prominence, that it had not had 
before. As has been said, this landscape, instead of being 
invented by the artist, was drawn directly from actual 
observation, and so had a fresh and seductive air of 
truth and reality. At the same time, his predilection for 
Italian scenes, which he peopled with the stock figures of 
classical mythology, and bathed with the tender tones of 
that twilight illumination of which he had discovered the 
secret, created a special taste for the sentimental and 
picturesque among his contemporaries, and was the 
chief factor in the development of that Italianized 
school of Dutch landscape which grew up in the seven- 
teenth century, alongside the native school, and which 
even claimed, in part at least, many men who had never 
been in Italy — like, as we have seen, Adriaen van de 

This "Arcadian school," as Dr. Wilhelm Bode calls 
it, had its immediate beginnings in the work of Cornelis 
Poelenberg, a painter of Utrecht, who was a pupil of 
Bloemaert, before he became a follower of Elsheimer, and 
who, although he etched little himself, is connected with 
the etching school of the period through the reproduc- 
tion of some of his pictures by his friend, Jan Gerritz 
Bronchorst. Poelenberg was enjojdng great popularity 
in Rome when Claude arrived there in 1627, and no 
doubt had his share in forming the style of that artist, 
in whom the school achieved its fullest and finest ex- 




Most landscape art, as we know it to-day, has nature 
as its subject. For Claude, however, its subject, para- 
doxical as the statement may seem, its subject was man. 
This does not mean that the first place is held in his pic- 
tures by the human figures they contain. On the con- 
trary, such figures are of far less relative importance than 
they are in the pictures of his master, Elsheimer — be- 
come, indeed, mere staflfage designed to fill the land- 
scape, and complete it. Nor does it mean that he was 
any less attentive to the phenomena of the external 
world than another artist, such as Ruysdael or Rem- 
brandt, even; for Claude carried very much farther Els- 
heimer's budding interest in the real world about him, 
and we know from the Liber Veritatis how closely and 
systematically he studied and sought to capture the least 
variations of light on the broad, flat spread of the Roman 
Campagna. But these studies were, for Claude, after 
all, but a means to an end, this end being the representa- 
tion of nature, not exactly as he saw it, with his eyes, but 
as he loved to recreate and contemplate it in an ideal 
world of his imagining. 

Poets at all times have dreamed of a Golden Age, and 
have sought to realize it in their art by means of tangible 
signs and symbols. For Claude, who was such a poet, as 
painter and etcher, this Golden Age of man was the clas- 
sical age of the past, of which some material evidences 
still remained to aid the dreamer in his work of recon- 
struction — far more, indeed, than at the present day. 
Then there was classical literature also — the "Ec- 
logues" of Virgil and the "Idyls " of Theocritus — which 
itself breathed a spirit of serenity, of tranquilUty, of 
elevation, of remoteness from the mere vulgar concerns 
of conmion life. Claude's noble and uplifted art is as 




nearly as possible the pictorial equivalent of this classic 
Uterature; and for us, even if it misses, through the 
deUberate care with which it is composed, something of 
the freshness and spontaneity which we are accustomed 
to require of the greatest landscape art, it still has power 
to express, as no other can, certain moods of man's more 
subtly refined and intellectualized emotional experience 
— his dreams, and his desires for the ideal. 

If Claude's appeal is still felt to-day, in spite of the 
great change that has come over our ideas of landscape 
art, in general, one can realize how powerful this appeal 
must have been to a generation thoroughly prepared to 
accept his ideas and his sentiments. The influence of 
Elsheimer, on its more immediate and superficial side, 
which continued to be felt long after his death, was thus 
powerfully reinforced by this young apostle of the serene 
classic spirit, whose fame, quickly acquired, spread from 
Rome all over the world, tempting more and more young 
men to take the road to the world's capital. 

Some, already there, who had formed part of Els- 
heimer's circle, came, in turn, under his spell, like Pieter 
de Laer, who made at least one landscape etching in 
the style of the master. Bartolomeus Breenbergh, who 
arrived in Rome in 1620, the year of Elsheimer's death, 
and left in 1627, the year of Claude's arrival, returned 
there later, and published, in 1640, a set of small prints 
etched with an exceedingly fine needle. Berchem, one 
of the best known Dutch etchers of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, who had studied with Pieter de Laer, and who 
spent most of his life making studies of the peasants of 
the Roman Campagna, came later, and he was followed 
by his pupil, the animaliery Karel du Jardin. Herman 
van Swanevelt was perhaps the most prolific producer 





of the entire group in the field of etching. But he was 
far inferior to his fellow-countryman, Jan Both, in whom 
the ** Arcadian school" found a representative second 
only to Claude himself. 

It is significant that Both, like Goudt, like Poelenberg 
— like Breenbergh, too, according to some accoimts — 
was born in Utrecht. For, just as, in the gradual de- 
velopment of Dutch art, with its dual strain or tenden- 
cies, Haarlem became the centre of the more radical, 
native school, composed of men like Goyen, Molyn, the 
van de Veldes; so, in the same way, this other city, keep- 
ing closer contact with the older culture and civilization 
to the south and east, gathered to itself the persisting 
classical, conservative elements, and became the head- 
quarters of the Italianate art and influences. Both, 
born in 1620, could hardly have come into any very 
close personal relations with Goudt, who died in 1630. 
But he studied under Abraham Bloemaert, who had 
also taught Poelenberg, and who himself had studied 
in Paris. So it was natural that, when sufficiently ad- 
vanced in his studies, he should have looked abroad 
for further instruction, and set forth in due course for 
France and Italy. 

He travelled with his brother, Andries, a year older, 
who had also studied under Bloemaert. The brothers 
seem to have had a remarkable affection for each other, 
and they collaborated in the first pictures they painted 
on Italian soil. In these pictures the landscape was ex- 
ecuted by Jan, who immediately came imder the spell 
of Claude, at Rome, the figures being introduced by 
Andries, who had studied the works of Bamboccio. 

The talent of the brothers, working together in this 
way, in perfect harmony and unison, attracted instant 


Jah Both. Landscafe «itb am Ox-Cart 

8i»ot the original etching, 10X7%inoh« 

In the Museum ol Fine Arts. Boston 

attention, and they won both fame and fortune. In- 
directly, no doubt, their success was the immediate 
cause of the fate which shortly overtook them, and put 
a sad end to this fraternal partner^ip. For, without it, 
they would scarcely have left Rome to visit Venice, 
where, their means permitting them to indulge in the 
festivities of that gay capital, as Guardi and Canaletto 
showed it to us, Uttle changed, no doubt, a century or so 
later, Andries fell one night from their gondola, when 
returning from an entertainment, and was drowned in 
the canal. The account of the incident is meagre in 
its details, and permits us merely to guess at the condi- 
tion of the young burgher artist, at the time. 

Jan did not remain long in Italy after his brother's 
death, but returned to Utrecht, where he is said to have 
endeavored to supply his artistic loss by having Poelen- 
berg paint the figures in his landscapes. 

Both Jan and Andries etched. The latter produced 
some thirteen plates, all figure studies — including the 
items enumerated in WeigePs supplement to Bartsch — 
while Jan executed fifteen, ten of them being landscapes 
with figures. The remaining five are devoted to the il- 
lustration of "The Five Senses of Man," one of those 
suites to which, as we have seen in the case of Jan van 
de Velde, the Dutch taste was so strongly attracted at 
that time. But it is by his landscape etchings, so few in 
number, yet so beautiful in quality, that Jan Both will 
be remembered. 

"From Claude," writes Mr. Binyon, "Both had 
learned how to produce, with a nice management of 
the acid, an exquisite softness in his distances. The at- 
mosphere is limpid and bathed in sunshine, and 
the foregrounds are suggested with that Ught touch 




5 II 

- ^ a 

and selection of detail which are first requisites in an 

It is, however, as difficult for the student to judge of 
Both in the impressions ordinarily seen of his work, as 
it is of Ruysdael, and for the same reason. The publisher, 
to complete what the artist had, with sure tact, inten- 
tionally left unfinished, defaced the plates, in their sec- 
ond state, by ruling lines across the sky and so destrojdng 
a large share of their delightful atmospheric quality and 
suggestion. But, even with this drawback, Both's prints 
are most agreeable to contemplate, and combine, to a 
degree unusual in etching, carefully planned pictorial 
qualities with perfect freedom and taste in execution. 

With Both, as has already been said, we reach the 
culriiination of this alien and exotic school of Dutch 
etching, which, taking its inspiration from foreign artists 
and from the Italian soil, long flourished on home 
ground. There it came, in the course of time, to supplant, 
to a greater or lesser degree, the purely native school, 
with its often rude but always racy note, infecting even 
such sound local etchers as Adriaen van de Velde and 
Antoni Waterloo. In the latter it is interesting to note 
the two currents running along, side by side, in separate 
series — those in which he, too, attempts the interpre- 
tation of Biblical and mythological scenes in an idyllic 
landscape, and those, far more interesting and suc- 
cessful, in which he gives us, without the least subter- 
fuge or affectation, his quiet little glimpses of the 
pleasant Dutch countryside. But Waterloo, who re- 
mained up to the early years of the last century the 
representative Dutch landscape etcher of his age, still 
remains too considerable a figure to be presented in 
this summary way at the end of an article on a school 


I A S 
£ I E 
„ 2 ■S 

I I ^ 


with which he had only a casual connection. He de- 
serves fuller, more individual treatment, and we shall 
hope, at some future time, to make him the subject 
of another article, dealing exclusively with his own 
pleasant and restful, if somewhat shallow and super-* 
ficial, art. 


EYNIER NOOMS, or Zeeman, as he was 
called by his contemporaries, because of his 
fondness for marine subjects, has a double 
interest and significance for us to-day. In the 
first place, he was one of the most accomplished etchers 
of his time in Holland — easily the first among those 
who made a specialty of ships and shipping. In the 
second, after two hundred years, he became the master 
of Charles Meryon, who attached the highest impor- 
tance to his work, studied and copied it with the closest 
attention, and, finally, dedicated to him his own series of 
'* Eaux-Fortes sur Paris." The dedication took the form 
of a poem, which Meryon also etched on copper and 
printed as a separate sheet. In it his admiration and al- 
most, it would seem, his personal affection, for the Dutch 
etcher finds expression, and he makes graceful acknowl- 
edgement of his indebtedness in the following lines: — 

**0f this first work and new, 
Where I have Paris shown — 
A ship adorns her banner — 
And tried to make my own 
My master's simple manner, 
Accept the homage due," 

ending with the fervent apostrophe and prayer: — 





**My master and man of the sea, 
Reynier, thou whom I love 
Like another part of me, 
May I see thee soon above!" ^ 

A curious thing about this dedicatory poem is that 
there is in it no reference to Zeeman as an architectural 
etcher, though it was one of his plates in a series of Paris 
views — Le Pavilion de Mademoiselle et une Partie du 
Louvre — that originally attracted Meryon — that even 
crystallized his vague notion of executing a similar series 
of his own on the same subject, as he himself states 
in the course of the notes, entitled "Mes Observa- 
tions. . . ,'' which he jotted down on the margins of 
Burty's catalogue of his etchings. 

"This first plate," he writes, "has had a notable in- 
fluence upon me. I came upon it one day, while going 
through a box of etchings at Vignferes', and it immedi- 
ately arrested my attention, as much because of the 
interest of the things represented, as of the brilliance of 
its execution, the life that lends gayety to the whole 
scene. I seized upon it at once with the intention of re- 
producing it for my own greater enjoyment; and from 
that very moment I conceived the project that I was 
then vaguely meditating, of undertaking a series of 
views of Paris, of my own selection, of which, in my 
mind. La Pompe N.D, was to be the first." 

Meryon's admiration for Zeeman is further amplified 
and justified in the continuation of the above: — 

"As I have already had occasion to say in several cir- 
cumstances, these copies after Zeeman, a master aqua- 
fortist to whom I attach the highest importance, have 

1 " Charles Meryon, Poet." By William Aspenwall Bradley. The 
Print-Collector's Quarterly, October, 1913, pp. 336-64. 







not . . . anywhere the naivete, the spirit, the freshness, 
which distinguish the originals. At that time I did not 
know this artist's manner of etching, to which attentive 
examination of his works initiated me shortly after- 
wards. I made these four views of Paris, as well as the 
little marines . . . above all with the aim of acquiring 
the knowledge I needed of the methods of the art. It 
was thus that, in the water-mill of Saint Denis [Un 
Moulin d eau pres de Saint-Denis] I proposed to push 
the action of the acid as far as possible: whence comes 
the excessive vigor, the heaviness, of this plate." 

The other plates by Zeeman mentioned above were 
Entree du Faubourg Saint-Mar ceau, d Paris, and La 
Riviere de Seine et V Angle du Mail, a Paris , in the same 
set as the two others, while the little marines were Jan 
van VyVs Galioty at Rotterdam; Haarlem Boats at Amster- 
dam; Zuyderzee Fishermen, and Passengers from Calais 
to Flushing, Meryon's copies are, of course, reversed 
from Zeeman's originals, which, despite the French art- 
ist's modest disclaimer, they not infrequently surpass 
in strength, completeness, and solidity of construction. 
A mastery of the medium is already beginning to mani- 
fest itself, to which the Dutch etcher could never attain. 
Yet Zeeman himself was a skillful etcher, worthy of all 
the praise Meryon bestowed upon him. Without a 
trace of the genius of Rembrandt, who was considerably 
his elder, he has, nevertheless, in his best work, a truth 
of observation and rendering, coupled with a charm and 
purity of linear style, that puts him in the very front 
rank of craftsmen on copper. 



S •■ s 
I "5 J 


Of Zeeman, the man, virtually nothing is known — 
less, even, than of Ruysdael. The very place of his 
birth is a mystery, but there seems no particular reason 
to doubt that he was born in Holland, and the date is 
generally placed about 1623. The inscription on the 
first of a series of marine views (B. 23-38) proves that he 
was living in Amsterdam in 1656, and presumably he 
worked there the greater part of his hfe, judging by the 
number of the views of that city and its shipping which 
he executed. Heinecken reports that he was at first a 
simple sailor, but that his genius led him to desert that 
calling and apply himself to painting. In this respect, of 
course, his career was, later, closely paralleled by that of 
Meryon, his pupil, who resigned his commission as a 
lieutenant in the French navy, to devote himself to the 
practice of his art. According to the same authority, 
Zeeman once spent a long time in Berlin. Certainly the 
Paris views (B. 55-62) make it clear that he visited 
France, while a second series of marines (B. 107-118), 
which carry the address of a London publisher, Tooker, 
seem to indicate that he may have visited England as 
well; though, as a matter of fact, there is nothing abso- 
lutely conclusive in the addresses of publishers at that 
period, since the copper plates were often bought and 
passed on from publisher to publisher, after they had 
once left the hands of the artist. 

As an etcher, Zeeman was most prolific, and it has been 
difficult to determine the exact number of his plates* 
Bartsch enumerates 154, but Dutuit raises this to 179, 
including those described in the Rigal catalogue and in 
WeigePs supplement to Bartsch, as well as two that had 


S ^ a 

not been attributed to Zeeman by any previous writer. 
These large portraits of the Dutch admirals, Ruyter and 
van Galen, were engraved by Mouzyn; but both contain, 
in the lower portion of the plate, the same little repre- 
sentation of a naval battle, etched by Zeeman. It will be 
recalled, in this connection, that Willem van de Velde 
the Elder was also in the habit of supplying marine 
views to be similarly used as pendants to the portrait 
engravings of his contemporaries; though, unlike Zee- 
man, he did not etch or engrave these himself. 

The above portraits seem originally to have formed 
part of a series of four, of which the two others rep- 
resented Martin Harpertsz Tromp, killed in a battle 
with the English, and Cornelius Tromp, his son. The 
last was the only one of the quartette who did not die 
a violent death. Zeeman also collaborated with Mou- 
zyn on an Apotheosis of Admiral Harpertsz Tromp, in 
which the naval hero is represented as being borne on a 
fiery chariot to the gates of Eternity, by Renown and 
Death. Zeeman^s share is, however, here also limited to 
the view, in the lower part of the plate, of the naval 
battle of August 7, 1653, near Scheveningen, in which 
Tromp lost his life. 

Naval battles, indeed, form no inconsiderable element 
in Zeeman's work, as they did in that of both the Willem 
van de Veldes — not unnaturally, when one considers 
how often the little Republic was at war with her mighty 
rivals, France and England, in the second half of the 
seventeenth century, just at the time when Dutch 
art, including etching, was at its height. Thus three 
small plates, of the utmost rarity — they are cited in 
the Marcus Catalogue, Amsterdam, 1770, but neither 
Bartsch nor Dutuit had ever seen them — represent 




'' The Naval Battles, Forever Memorable, of the Admi- 
rals de Ruyter, Tromp, and Bankert, June 7 and 14 and 
August 21, 1673, against the Anglo-French Fleet.'' One 
whole series (B. 99-106) is devoted entirely to the theme 
of naval warfare, though, as the title, "Nouvelles in- 
ventions de combats Navaeles,'' inscribed on a ban- 
derolle, indicates, these plates do not represent any 
particular historic scenes. Doubtless the commanders 
could be prevailed upon, in their hours of leisure, to put 
their vessels through their paces to please the popular 
artist, who so flattered the national pride. Perhaps they 
were even under instructions from the Admiralty to do 
what they could to facilitate his efforts, as in the case of 
the van de Veldes. Like them, Zeeman may possibly 
have held some official position in the pay of that de- 
partment, for the fuller enlightenment of his fellow- 
countrymen as to what was going on in the fleet and on 
the high seas. One can imagine how stimulating to the 
tax-payer might prove such a print as the one (B. 167) 
showing a naval battle at the very critical moment of 
the engagement. In the foreground, towards the left, 
floats the dismantled hulk of a ship, beyond which five 
other ships are shown enveloped in smoke. One is dis- 
charging its broadside. Probably this plate also be- 
longed to a series of which the others are missing. 

On the whole, however, Zeeman finds his distinctive 
field in the more peaceful employments of the Dutch 
sailors of his time. Just as the two van de Veldes, father 
and son, unfold for us a great panorama of Holland's 
naval glory in the seventeenth century, so Zeeman de- 
lights to give a detailed picture of her maritime suprem- 
acy in other ways. Although he himself has composed 
several cantos in the great epic of sea-warfare waged by 



e 1 1 

his country for the iriahitenance of that supremacy, and 
although his battle pieces have something of the magnif- 
icence of the old sea-fights, he is above all the laureate 
of the Dutch merchant marine, and he loves to show 
us the stout ships, the sturdy sailors, the sandy shore, 
and the well-built ports of the prosperous cities. One 
whole series, of eight plates, is devoted to the depic- 
tion of " The Ports of the City of Amsterdam " (B. 1 19- 
126), and here Zeeman is particularly happy in being 
able to combine the two motives — shipping and archi- 
tecture — in the treatment of which he particularly ex- 

In this delightful series the stir and bustle of harbor 
life are admirably indicated, with a suggestion of that 
sentiment of adventure and romance, which always 
pervades such places. Perhaps the most attractive and 
successful of the plates is the one representing De 
Stadts-Herbergh, which also serves as the title-piece 
for the entire set. All the foreground is occupied by 
a canal, bordered on the right by a wooden pier with 
a railing. In the middle stands a large building — possi- 
bly a Customs House — above the steep roof of which 
rise clumps of masts with flags, rigging, and spars, 
across nearly the entire background. At the left there is 
a drawbridge of quaint construction, with glimpses of 
other buildings in the distance. On the canal are seen a 
couple of small boats, while everywhere — in the boats, 
on the pier, on the drawbridge — men are rowing, crab- 
bing, walking, leaning against the railing, or standing 
about and talking in little groups. An air of life, active 
but without excitement, pervades the whole plate, and 
this is heightened by the bright ripple running along the 
water stirred by a breeze which flaps the sails, streams 


out the flags gayly, and whips the ropes of the rigging, 
whose carefully studied lines and loops, caught up into 
an intricate and interesting pattern, gives quite a 
Whistlerian note to the composition. This plate is all 
the better for having but slight indication of sky and 
cloud — Zeeman's peculiar weakness as an etcher. 

Of similar interest, though of less significance artisti- 
cally, is the series, referred to above (B. 107-118), of 
which the title-print bears the words: Quelque port de 
Meer faicts par R. N. Zeeman A, amsterdam A, 1656, 
written on a signboard leaning against a barrel in the 
left foreground. Here, however, the port, apparently, is 
not that of a great city, like Amsterdam, but of some 
smaller coast town, where the ships lie in a roadstead 
dominated by high, precipitous cliffs, and the loading 
and unloading of the small boats is done on the low, 
sandy shore, below the battlements. Here again we have 
the air of bustling activity in the carefully worked out 
movements of individualized sailors and roustabouts, 
and in the coming and going of craft, large and small, 
across the face of the water, sometimes with sails hang- 
ing idly, as if in a calm, sometimes with a fair wind fill- 
ing them. In one, the scene has a semi-warlike aspect. 
Two men-of-war have been in port, and now they are 
evidently about to put out to sea again. Both are firing 
salutes, and the smoke drifts away from the mouths of 
the guns, in large round clouds, while the sailors aloft 
unfurl the sails. On shore, a group of officers bid a fond 
farewell to their female companions, before embarking 
in the tender, in the stern of which a seated sailor blows a 
recall on his trumpet. A second boat, filled with men, 
has, meanwhile, almost reached the first ship, and a 
sailor stands ready in the bow to lay her alongside with 





his landing-hook. It is a gay and animated little picture, 
with, at the same time, something mellow and medita- 
tive about it, produced in part, perhaps, by the sunset 
hour of departure. 

A third series, entitled "Different Vessels of Amster- 
dam" (B. 63-98), contains, incidentally, several views of 
that city, including the interesting print, architectur- 
ally, of The Block Hoitse, which shows the canal in the 
foreground frozen over, and everything on runners — 
even a small boat, which is careering along imder full 
sail — a novel species of improvised ice-boat. But the 
main interest of this series, as the title indicates, lies in 
the various pictures of the ships themselves, shown 
sometimes two on a plate. "Ships, with their ordered 
intricacy of rigging and their mysterious beauty, have 
an endless fascination for him (Zeeman)," writes Mr. 
Binyon, and he has here indulged to the full his delight 
in their representation. Everything, from the great 
Black Bear of the far-away Greenland service, to the 
humble fishing smack and the galiot, — like the one in 
which the van de Veldes followed the manoeuvres of the 
Dutch fleet, — finds a place here, and the series as a 
whole is of infinite interest for those who share Mr. 
Masefield's enthusiasm for ships and shipping — find a 
poetic charm in everything that pertains to their past 
history. Zeeman is no snob or aristocrat, as his fellow 
etcher Backhuysen was inclined to be, and he treats all 
types with equal zest and sympathy. "His men-of-war 
move with royal stateliness," but "equally good in their 
way are plates Uke the fishing boats (B. 38) setting out 
at morning over the still sea, bathed in a wash of limpid 
air and sunshine.'' 

This atmospheric quality is one of the great charms of 



' -^ s 


Zeeman's prints, when they are seen in good impressions. 
The lighting effects and the shadows are always care- 
fully observed, so that often it appears possible to tell 
the precise time of day indicated. The skies alone are 
bad. Unlike Both and Ruysdael, Zeeman did not have 
the tact to perceive that the white paper was able to give 
a far greater effect of simlight and spaciousness than any 
number of criss-cross lines, and his clouds have too mas- 
sive a bulk, too hard and definite a contour. It is possi- 
ble, however, that these may, in part, at least, have been 
executed by another hand. 

Mention must also be made, in this connection, of 
Zeeman's skill in suggesting the brittle texture of ice in 
the delightful scene of skaters on a frozen canal (D. 155). 
Here the ruled lines on the surface of the ice itself are 
as suited to their purpose as they are hard and unsatis- 
factory when transferred to the sky. The subject, of 
course, was an exceedingly popular one in Dutch art, 
and reminds us of the delightful passage describing a 
similar scene in Pater's ^^ Sebastian van Storck.'' 


Zeeman's only serious rival as an etcher of marine 
subjects among the Dutch artists of the seventeenth 
century, is Ludolf Backhuysen. Backhuysen's life is 
recorded with a fullness of detail that contrasts with the 
blank confronting us in the case of Zeeman. Born at 
Embden, in 1631, like Ruysdael he did not inmiedi- 
ately become an artist, but, until he was eighteen, held 
a post under his father, who was secretary of the States 
General. The beauty of his handwriting, and his skill in 
keeping accounts, brought him the offer of a position 


with a merchant in Amsterdam. There, at the age of 
nineteen, he started on his artistic career, with the instru- 
ment to the use of which he was already accustomed, 
namely, his pen. 

"His master was nature," says the old account. 
''Amsterdam offered him the spectacle of a port con- 
stantly filled with vessels: it was these vessels that he 
drew, and his drawings often brought him a hundred 
florins and even more. He was advised to paint and, 
taking AUardt van Everdingen as his master, he learned 
the secrets of art, while continuing to appropriate those 
of nature. To surprise these last, he was not afraid to 
affront the greatest dangers, and, trusting himself to 
frail barks, he went to study the storms amid the wildest 
waves, ready to engulf him. Often he was forced to re- 
turn by the sailors, who refused to share his audacity. 
Then, as soon as he reached shore, without suffering any- 
thing to distract him for an instant, without looking at 
anything or speaking to anybody, he ran to his studio and 
threw upon the canvas the horrors that had so recently 
aroused his wonder and admiration." 

Backhuysen's paintings were tremendously popular 
in his own time, and the burgomasters of Amsterdam 
ordered a big marine from him as a present for Louis 
XIV of France. But though becoming a painter, and a 
highly successful one, he did not cease, at the same time, 
to be a penman. He was the best calligrapher in Amster- 
dam, and, like the eldest van de Velde, father of Jan 
and Esaias, and founder of the family on Dutch soil, he 
gave lessons in the art. To fix its principles, he even 
invented a method, and this method is said to have sur- 
vived him many years. Besides his penmanship, which, 
as his biographer complains, took much precious time 






from his painting, his leisure hours were devoted to poetry, 
and he numbered among his friends the best poets and 
the most celebrated savants of his time. He died at Am- 
sterdam, in 1708, at the advanced age of seventy-eight. 

He was already seventy-one when he executed the 
thirteen, and perhaps fifteen, plates which are credited 
to him — an instance of belated activity, in a new me- 
dium, comparable to that of Corot, who made his dozen 
lithographs at about the same age. But Backhuysen's 
etchings, though produced so late in life, are neither 
languid nor feeble. On the contrary, the artist's great 
ships, with their whipping flags and their swelling sails, 
while perhaps a trifle theatrical as compared with Zee- 
man's, are even more tinged with the golden glory of 
romance. There is something less Dutch, one feels, than 
English and Elizabethan about them. 

*^No one, till Turner came," says Mr. Binyon, ''suc- 
ceeded at all in painting the mass and weight of water 
as the tides move it in deep seas." But although Turner 
may surpass them in the rendering of the water itself, 
both Zeeman and Backhuysen remain superior to him in 
the interpretation of that life which moves upon it in 
sturdy keels. In Turner's pictures, the ships generally 
seem mere accessories to the marine subject — like the 
human staffage of Claude's landscapes — and are quite 
evidently studied with no particular sympathy or close- 
ness of observation. For the two Dutch artists, on the 
contrary, the ships are clearly the principal objects of 
interest, the sea itself being the accessory in their case, 
though both render quite adequately for their purposes, 
the short, sharp chop of the shallow Dutch waters — 
particularly Zeeman, who is notably superior, in this 
respect, to Backhuysen. 



Where both excel is in the suggestion of the buoyancy 
of their barks, of their sensitive and varied response to 
the elements of which they are at once the playthings 
and the conquerors, through man's ingenuity. Each 
picture, one feels, however slight, is the result of close 
and thorough preliminary observation. And if this is 
true in the case of individual vessels, it is even more 
striking where the problem is to show a nimiber of ships 
in their varied, yet consistent, reaction to wind and 
wave. We never see here, as we do occasionally in 
Turner's pictures, one ship in violent motion during a 
gale, while the others ride at anchor almost as quietly as 
if there were a dead calm. A single spirit inspires the 
whole scene, and each individual vessel shares in it. 

Thus both Zeeman's and Backhuysen's ships seem to 
us vital, sentient creatures, like the ships of few other 
artists whom we know, and give us an almost mythic 
impression of elemental life — as though these fabrics, 
made by men's hands, were really the offspring of the 
old sea-monsters, so often represented by Backhujrsen 
on his steering-boards, and sometimes, fancifully, in 
the water itself. Studied as they are, in all the detail of 
their rigging — though the effect is never baldly realis- 
tic — they have, each of them, an individual expression, 
a physiognomy, of their own, and Backhuysen's, in par- 
ticular, through some magic of arrangement in ropes and 
spars, often give an effect of sheer fantasy that is fasci- 

In short these two artists express a sentiment rarely 
encountered in pictorial art, although it is common 
enough in poetry — especially in English poetry. Kip- 
ling and Masefield both have it among the moderns. 
So has the latest of them all — the young English poet, 



so lately dead, James Elroy Flecker, who, in his poem 
entitled ^'The Old Ships," has written, with such en- 
chantment, of vessels still older than those of om* Dutch 
artists: — 

''I have seen old ships sail like swans asleep 
Beyond the village which men still call Tyre." 

The ships of Zeeman and Backhuysen are Uke eagles, 
rather than swans, as they sweep along imder full sail. 
But often they, too, are so superb, so magical, that one 
half expects, with the same poet, to see their masts 

"burst open with a rose, { 

And the whole deck put on its leaves again." 



A S in the case of so many Dutch etchers, — and 
/\ of two with whom we have dealt particularly, 
/■"^\ Zeeman and Ruysdael, — almost nothing is 
A. jV known of the life of Antoni Waterloo, and 
this is the more remarkable in that there is perhaps 
no other landscape etcher of the period who tells us so 
much about himself through his work : the places that 
he liked, the villages that he visited, the views that he 
admired, the roads that he rambled along, the folks that 
he met there going about their business or idUng in the 
shade. He tells us still other things too — things about 
his character as a man of affairs and as an artist. He was 
clearly an indefatigable, also a conscientious, worker, 
though not one of the most refined sensibility or the 
deepest devotion to nature, even in those aspects that 
most attracted him to her; and we see that he studied 
the fashions and sought to follow them himself in a 
more sedulous manner than a really great artist would 
have done. For, while he never, so far as we are aware, 
drifted southward on 'Hhe Road to Rome," that at- 
tracted so many of his contemporaries, he attempted, 
at one time of his Ufe, to capture a little of the spirit of 


the Italianate school, and so lost something of the "first 
free careless rapture" of his first work — if we can use 
so strong a word as "rapture'^ to express the quiet and 
sedate, though genuine and communicable, pleasure 
that he derived from certain characteristic aspects of 
the Dutch landscape. 

Waterloo was born in 1618, and his birthplace is given 
variously as Amsterdam, Utrecht, or Lille in Flanders. 
All that appears certain, beyond this, is that he lived 
a number of years somewhere between Maarsen and 
Breukelen, in the neighborhood of Utrecht; but even 
this certainty rests upon the fact that a large part of 
his prints are said to represent scenes in that vicinity, 
rather than upon any external or documentary evidence. 
In the same way it has been assumed that he made an 
excursion into the north of Germany. For, in the mu- 
seum at Hamburg, there are several drawings signed 
by Waterloo, on which he has written the names of 
villages in the outskirts of that commercial capital. 
Dr. Strater, who communicated this information to 
Dutuit, also pointed out that the drawings for one set 
of prints (B. 71-76), by the same artist, as well as for 
several other individual etchings, seem to have been 
made on the banks of the Meuse, between Liege and 

Waterloo was a painter as well as an etcher, but his 
paintings are rare to-day. Dutuit had seen but one of 
them — a landscape "agreeably composed and enriched 
with charming figures from the brush of Adriaen van de 
Velde'' — figures being the particular Mte noir and 
stumbling-block of Waterloo. The Dresden museum 
possesses two of his paintings; that at Munich three. 
Only one of the five is signed. Drawings by Waterloo 


are more common, and are occasionally to be seen in 
the American market, as in the case of the drawing for 
the small plate. The Rock with a Hole in it (B. 3). But 
Waterloo seems to have owed his contemporary fame 
less to his paintin js and drawings than to his etchings, of 
which he executed more than a hundred. Both Bartsch 
and Dutuit place the total number at 136, so it seems 
likely that we possess to-day everything, or practically 
everything, that he executed in that medium. This is, 
in itself, a remarkable circumstance, and points con- 
clusively both to his great popularity in his own time, 
and to the large editions made from his various plates 
to meet the demand. In fact, we know from contem- 
porary report, that he was highly successful, and that 
his works sold for good sums. In spite of this, the artist 
who may, in a sense, be called the landscape etcher 
par excellence of the Low Countries — the one whom 
the Dutch themselves regarded as their favorite in this 
field, and whose fame lasted longest after his death, 
rivalling van Ostade, an etcher of figures, in this re- 
spect — is said to have died in poverty, in the hospital 
of Saint Job in Utrecht, though another account has it 
that his demise occurred in Amsterdam on February 
28, 1677. 

Only one other fact may be reasonably inferred con- 
cerning the outward circumstances of Waterloo's life, 
and that is of interest since it serves to connect him in a 
way with the artist who was the greatest of all Dutch 
etchers, as Waterloo was one of the most popular — 
Rembrandt. It is possible that he may have met Rem- 
brandt at the sale of Seghers' effects in 1645. Yet even 
this inference hinges upon a debated point as to the au- 
thorship of certain plates in one series (B. 89-94) which 


were published as Waterloo's own, but which may have 
been the work of Seghers hiniself . 

These plates, three in number — View of a City in 
Holland (B. 90), The Village beside the Canal (B. 91), 
and The Village in the Valley (B. 93) — resemble plates 
by Seghers very much more than they resemble other 
work by Waterloo. Moreover, they are signed in a dif- 
ferent manner from the remaining plates in the same 
series — A.W, exc., instead of Antoni Waterloo f. Now 
we know, of course, that Rembrandt bought one of 
Seghers' plates at this sale — a Tobias and the Angel, 
which he reworked, changing it into a Flight into Egypt — 
and there is no inherent reason why Waterloo should 
not have done likewise. There exists, in the museum at 
Amsterdam, a first state of The Village beside the Canal, 
without the foreground and foreground figures that 
Waterloo undoubtedly himself added in the second 
state. Dr. Strater attributes this first state unreservedly 
to Seghers, and we can see no reason to question this 
attribution. So we think the chances are all in favor of 
the two artists having met at this historic sale, if they 
had not done so a hundred times already. 


One striking difference between Waterloo and nearly 
all the earlier Dutch landscape etchers, including Segh- 
ers, lies in the choice and treatment of subject. When 
we think of the Low Countries, the first picture that 
presents itself to the mind's eye, is pretty certain to be 
the wide expanse of a flat country flecked with wind- 
mills and farmhouses, and cut up into a more or less 
regular checkerboard pattern by an intricate network 







of caijals and hedges, and this is the way the majority 
of Dutch landscape artists thought of their own coun- 
try, and saw it, till, in the field of etching, we come to 
Antoni Waterloo and Ruysdael. Of the former, who 
was the older by quite a number of years, and who may 
very well have exerted some influence upon the younger 
man in this respect, Bartsch says: — **He has seldom 
chosen to represent a scene of any great extent: a 
little corner of the forest; a part of a brook, its bank 
covered with verdure; a rock; an isolated village situ- 
ated on the shore of a canal; a hermitage — such are 
the subjects he selects by preference,'' and it is to this 
narrowing, this restricting of the scope of his repre- 
sentation, that Waterloo owes, in very large part, his 
undeniable charm as an etcher. For, if not a great 
artist, he is a true poet — at least when he follows the 
bent of his own native inspiration, and shows us the 
things, the scenes, in which he is really interested, in 
which he found a genuine appeal to his sedate sensi- 
bility. Then his best plates become veritable little 
poems and, so regarded, can afford a very real and rare 

Such is the case with a plate like the one entitled 
The Cemetery on the Water^s Edge (B. 22), chosen almost 
at random from a portfolio of Waterloo's earlier etch- 
ings. A picturesque group of church buildings, sur- 
roimded by a wall, occupies the space at the left, the 
spire of the church itself barely showing above the steep 
roof of the building in the immediate foreground. In 
the wall opens a big door, which is reflected in the water, 
and on either side of this door stand two large, shapely 
trees. Along the towing path, in the centre of the pic- 
ture, a horse, ridden by a man, draws a boat in the direc- 





tion of a little village in the distance, which seems swim- 
ming in still, limpid air and sunlight. The contrast 
between these distant sunlit spaces, and the cool tran- 
quil shade of the church environs and enclosure, is 
pleasantly suggested, and the quiet, intimate charm of 
the little composition, which shows much skill in ar- 
rangement, is incontestable. 

Still more attractive and interesting is the one en- 
titled Steeple of a Village by the Sea (B. 24) in the same 
series of "Twelve Views." The village appears to be 
situated on a long headland, which reaches out into the 
sea across nearly the whole of the plate, and thus presents 
its side view to us, obliquely. Advantage is taken of the 
picturesque silhouette of the roofs, interspersed with 
trees, and dominated by the pointed spire, to make a 
very striking and tasteful pattern against the back- 
ground of the delicately wrought sky, with filmy clouds. 
The immediate foreground is full of detail, such as the 
ladder leading down the steep bank to a little landing 
stage, where a woman, on her knees, is engaged in wash- 
ing the clothes. There are also several boats, of which 
the two largest carry the line of the headland straight 
across the plate to its extreme limit on the right, thus 
completing the composition. This plate also shows great 
skill and feeling in the biting, and is worth studying in 
order to note the varying quality and texture of the lines 
in different parts of the plate. They are coarsest and 
closest in the church roofs and gables, whose dark mass 
is thus rendered the more monumental and effective. 

The Little Hamlet (B. 29), still in the same series, is 
such a subject as Rembrandt might have chosen — did; 
in fact, often choose — in his fondness for farmhouses. 
And though, of course, Waterloo's treatment has none of 


I i i 

that master's wonderful power of abstraction and elim- 
ination, he renders with taste and intelUgence the more 
superficial aspect and sentiment of the rustic scene, and 
comes close to rivalling the work of such a modern 
master as Charles Jacque, in this vein of romantic 

Waterloo's romanticism took another and equally 
modern turn. He loved old buildings in a way that sug- 
gests Sir Walter Scott, and, like Scott, he found them 
near at home. Castles and other memorials of the mid- 
dle ages in architecture were still scattered over the Low 
Countries, and Waterloo gives us glimpses of them in 
such plates as The Man in a Cloaky and His Dog (B. 43) 
and The Hedge Gate under the Trees (B. 44). In the 
former also he has recognized the element of the pic- 
turesque added by the modern frame building erected 
against the ancient masonry wall, with its arches, at 
the left, and the different textures of the two are well 

A romantic little chapel crowns the woody and rocky ^ 

height in The Two Hermits (B. 47), showing clearly that 
religion also had its romantic side for Waterloo, in quite 
a modern manner, just as it had for Scott, again, in such 
novels as '*The Monastery" and ''The Abbot." Yet he 
was entirely catholic in his choice of subjects and, in the 
same series, he is as ready to show us a man beating his 
ass, as the two holy brethren ascending the hill to their 
secluded hermitage. 

The truth is, of course, that for Waterloo, as for 
Claude and Both, the human figures are in reality mere 
staffage designed, at most, to heighten some particular 
sentiment of the landscape, and generally for no more 
serious purpose than to observe a fading convention. He 








is a landscape etcher, pure and simple, and his figures 
are so badly drawn, so commonplace and uncharacteris- 
tic, that we can only wish he had left them out entirely, 
instead of drawing attention to them, as he so often 
does, in the titles. It seems grotesque that charming 
glimpses of woodland and roadside scenery, full of a 
fresh sylvan and vagabond sentiment, should be la- 
belled as The Man and the Woman by the Little Bridge 
(B. 59), The Traveller and His Dog (B. 60), The Three 
Young Boys and Their Dogs (B. 61), The Two Horsemen 
(B. 63), The Two Boys and the Barking Dog (B. 64), and so 
on, when the figures whereby they are thus identified, 
are often actual blemishes, and merely serve to distract 
our attention from the real beauties of these plates. 

In his later series Waterloo tends to work on an in- 
creasingly large scale, with a corresponding loss both in 
intimacy of charm and in delicacy of execution. Though 
certain of these large plates, like the Farmhouse by a 
River (B. 116) and The Great Mill (B. 119), are his 
most famous productions, they are by no means among 
the most pleasing. On the contrary, all that is coarsest 
and most commonplace in his facture comes most 
clearly to the surface in them, especially in his treat- 
ment of trees and of foliage. 

There was a time, even long after his death, when 
Waterloo was regarded as the master of leaf and branch 
in etching. ** Waterloo's subjects are the woods which 
he rendered like a veritable master," writes Bartsch; 
''all the truth of nature is found here, above all in the 
foliage, which he interpreted in an admirable manner." 
But although so recent a writer as Sir Frederick Wed- 
more echoes this appreciation in his latest volume on 
''Etching," and instances such an admirable plate as 


Ahtoni Waterloo. The Great Miu. 
Biie of the orifciiul etching, 11 X S^ incbra 

The Two Bridges (B. 47), as an example of his felicity, it 
is no longer possible to accord Waterloo the same un- 
qualified praise on this score. Compared with the best 
modern etchers he seems harsh and mechanical, and 
there is little evidence in his work of any serious or sym- 
pathetic study of natural forms for their own sake, as 
there is, for example, in Ruysdael. Yet Waterloo fol- 
lowed Ruysdael in the attempt to achieve a fuller, 
more painter-like representation of foliage, and it is 
easy to see how effective, how naturalistic, his treatment 
must have appeared after the naive efforts of such 
early etchers as the van de Veldes. 

Like a painter, Waterloo, without abandoning pure 
line, though somewhat debasing it, attempts a tonal 
interpretation of his material. Through it he seeks a 
fuller modelling, a subtler effect of color, than had hith- 
erto been achieved in landscape etching. He particu- 
larly loves to show the flickering reflection of sunlight 
on the treetops; and he pursues this phase of his sub- 
ject to the point where he weakens his plates through 
that excessive multiplication and dispersal of the lights, 
to which all critics have directed attention. Thus, where 
the van de Veldes are naive, Waterloo seems a little 
sophisticated and insincere; and, as between the two, we 
much prefer the simpler, more purely stylistic treatment 
of such an artist as Esaias van de Velde, to Waterloo's 
rather heavy, over-elaborate method of imitation. In 
the former there are, at least, balance, harmony, and 
a strong feeling for linear design, all of which are more 
or less sacrificed in the latter, for the sake of inunediate 

As a matter of fact, there is no Dutch etcher of the 
seventeenth century who succeeds very well with foli- 





age. Between Waterloo, who is satisfied with too facile a 
formula, and Ruysdael, who never succeeds in achieving 
a formula at all, there is no artist who may be regarded 
as having actually solved the problem, unless perhaps 
it be Verboom, who etched but few plates, though these 
are masterpieces. On the whole, it was left for the artists 
of the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the 
nineteenth century to solve their problem, and men like 
John Crome, in England, and Theodore Rousseau, in 
France, may be considered, in this respect, the true 
successors of the seventeenth-century Dutch landscape 
etchers — the continuers of their work. 


On the technical side there is much that is interesting 
about Waterloo, for he was one of the first modern 
etchers to experiment with his medium, to multiply his 
means of expressing himself upon the copper, and to 
avail himself of the full resources of his medium. 

According to Bartsch, the method he employed was 
to let the acid delicately bite his plates, without ever 
submitting them a second time to the operation. To 
safeguard his backgrounds against the action of the 
acid, he took care to stop them out, and obtained, in this 
way, the gradation of his planes. Bartsch dtes particu- 
larly, in support of this theory. The Two Men Before 
the Gate (B. 56), where the great mass of the woods sep- 
arates itself perfectly from the tree in the left foreground, 
which is deeply bitten by the acid. But ordinarily he 
gave his plates a general biting, then added, with the 
burin alone, the harmonization of the tones, as well as 
the strong shadows, wherever he judged it necessary. 


As an example of this method, Bartsch takes The En- 
trance of the Wood Surrounded by a Hedge (B. 55), where 
three different planes have been bitten feebly, and to 
the same degree. The gradations have been effected 
afterwards by a more or less free use of the burin, an 
instrument of which Waterloo, in general, availed him- 
self abundantly. 

From these methods one serious drawback has arisen. 
Waterloo's plates having been delicately etched with 
acid, and then charged with a great deal of burin work, 
it happened that, as they became worn from printing, 
the etched lines grew visibly weaker, while those made 
by the graver, being deeper, did not diminish in the 
same proportion, so that the tones became confused and 
the harmony was destroyed. It is for this reason that it 
has sometimes been beUeved that these bad proofs have 
been retouched — an error, according to Bartsch, who 
claims that the effect is produced entirely by the wear- 
ing of the plate. 

Some few plates were, indeed, retouched afterwards, 
by other hands, but this new work "occurs mostly in 
the wooded foregrounds, rarely on the tree-trunks, never 
in the foliage.'' 

A greater number have been rebitten. They can be 
distinguished by the fact that, in all the places where 
delicacy is required, the lines are coarse and crude, that 
there is no gradation in the tones, that the distances are 
as vigorous as the foregrounds. The whole plate offers 
nothing but an assemblage of black and monotonous 
masses, opposed to pure whites devoid of those delicate 
half tones, and those touches of brilliant black, which 
produce the striking effect so justly admired in the good 


Such proofs are rare in American collections, though 
imperfect ones are common enough, so it is not an easy 
matter to judge accurately of the artistic merits of 
Waterloo without a little search for fine impressions. 

In conclusion it may be repeated that Waterloo, if 
not a great artist, is a most agreeable minor master, 
and that he excels in the rendering, if not of trees and 
foliage as such, at least of a certain sense of leafy se- 
clusion and solitude. In his later, and larger plates — 
particularly in those which deal with Biblical and 
mythological subjects, and where he invents an entirely 
imaginary landscape to suit his mood — boskage be- 
comes as it were, an obsession, and the artist appears 
bent, with the English poet, Andrew Marvell, upon 

" resolving all that's made 
To a green thought in a green shade." 

This shade itself, and not the trees that produce it, 
one feels, is the real theme of much of Waterloo's art; 
for, as has been said, he was, above all, a sentimentalist, 
only secondarily a nature-lover and a student of nature. 
This makes the limitation of its appeal to us at the pres- 
ent day, just as it does that of much of the art and liter- 
ature of the 1830 period. But it is easy to see how such 
pictures, with their calm, idyllic atmosphere, should 
have appealed to the substantial Dutch burghers of the 
seventeenth century, for whom they fulfilled the pri- 
mary function of Dutch art, in general, by furnishing 
them, in the words of Pater, *^with an ideal world, 
beyond which the real world is discernible indeed, but 
etherealized by the medium through which it comes to 



:. r^