Esaias van de Velde (Dutch, Amsterdam 1587 - 1630 The Hague)
Summer Landscape (The Road to Emmaus) , ca. 1612-13
Signed lower right: E.VAN.DEN.VELDE
Oil on panel
8 1/8 x 12 1/2 in. (20.6 x 31.8 cm)
R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1958
Esaias van de Velde was a pioneer in the development of naturalistic landscape painting in the Netherlands during the 1610s. Summer Landscape (The Road to Emmaus), one of the earliest known paintings by the artist, retains traditional narrative elements usually absent from his later works.
Although van de Velde's first dated paintings are from 1614, Stechow suggested a date of about 1612-13 for the Oberlin Landscape thus making it among the artist's earliest paintings. He cited the more traditional aspects of the composition (such as the seasonal and biblical themes), as well as its stylistic relationship to the more densely forested works of van de Velde's teacher Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607).1 Indeed, despite the more naturalistic, unaggrandized view of the native landscape, the greater horizontality of the composition, and the artist's brilliant application of paint (see Technical Data), some traditional elements still linger in the Summer Landscape, such as the clusters of trees framing the composition in a formula borrowed from Coninxloo.
Another traditional element is the pairing of this landscape with a similarly conceived pendant. The pendant to the Oberlin picture, a Winter Landscape (The Flight into Egypt), was also formerly in the Mansi collection (see Provenance), but its present whereabouts are unknown.2 Together the paintings present a familiar allegorical juxtaposition of summer and winter. Moreover, the staffage in each scene illustrates a biblical event, the disciples encountering Christ on the Road to Emmaus, and the Flight into Egypt: two pilgrimages that bracket Christ's life on earth. The specific choice of biblical travelers serves to integrate the figures into the winding contours of the land, although they remain secondary to the landscape itself.
R. van Luttervelt has suggested that the castle at the right of the scene may be the castle of Muiderslot, at Muiden.3 Constructed in the thirteenth century, Muiderslot is surrounded by a moat and does have circular towers flanking the entrance, but more specific, identifiable details are lacking in van de Velde's painting.
M. E. Wieseman
Esaias van de Velde was baptized in Amsterdam on 17 May 1587; his parents had fled to the Northern Netherlands from Antwerp in 1585. He probably studied first with his father, Hans van de Velde, a painter and art dealer, then with the landscape artist Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607), and possibly with David Vinckboons. Esaias was in Haarlem by 1609, and, together with Willem Buytewech (ca. 1591/2-1624) and Hercules Segers, joined the artists' guild of St. Luke in 1612. Esaias moved to The Hague in 1618, and died in that city in November 1630. Esaias van de Velde was a draftsman, painter, and etcher of landscapes, cavalry battles, and genre scenes. In the early 1610s, he played a leading role in the development of a more naturalistic landscape style in the Netherlands, a style committed to recording the native Dutch scene. Among his pupils and followers was Jan van Goyen, whose early works much resemble his.
Keyes, George S. Esaias van den Velde 1587-1630. Doornspijk, 1984.
Collection van Diemen, Amsterdam
Collection Anna Maria van Diemen (later [from 1675] wife of Gerolamo Paressi)
By descent to Marchese Raffaello Mansi Orsetti, Lucca (1928)
Purchased in Spain by Frederick Mont, Inc., New York (in association with Newhouse Gallery, New York), from whom purchased in 1958.
Rome, Galleria Borghese, 1928. Mostra di Capolavori delle Pittura Olandese. Cat. no. 124 (collection Raffaello Mansi Orsetti; with pendant).
Indianapolis, John Herron Art Museum, 1958. The Young Rembrandt and his Times. 14 February - 23 March (also shown at San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery). Cat. no. 34.
Kenwood, London County Council, 1962. An American University Collection: Works of Art from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio. 3 May - 30 October. Cat. no. 34.
Allentown, Penn., Allentown Art Museum, 1965. Seventeenth Century Painters of Haarlem. 2 April - 13 June. Cat. no. 82.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1965. Dutch Art and Life in the Seventeenth Century. 10 July - 2 September. No cat.
New Brunswick, N.J., The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, 1983. Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century. 19 February - 17 April. Cat. no. 115.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Esaias van de Velde and the Beginnings of Dutch Landscape Painting." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 1 (1947), p. 92.
Gerson, Horst. "Enkele vroege werken van Esaias van de Velde." Oud Holland 70 (1955), p. 131.
Bengtsson, Åke. "Studies on the Rise of Realistic Landscape Painting in Holland 1610-1625." Figura 3 (1958), p. 58, n. 44.
Haverkamp Begemann, Egbert. Willem Buytewech. Amsterdam, 1958, p. 41 and n. 212.
Hamilton, Chloe. "Catalogue of R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund Acquisitions." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 16, no. 2 (Winter 1959), cat. no. 46; no. 3 (Spring 1959), ill. p. 222.
Plietzsch, E. Holländische und flämische Maler des XVII Jahrhunderts. Leipzig, 1960, p. 95, n. 1.
Stechow, Wolfgang. Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century. London, 1966, pp. 20-21.
Stechow, Wolfgang. Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. Oberlin, 1967, p. 154, fig. 56.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Varieties of Landscape." Apollo 103, no. 168 (February 1976), pp. 112-13, ill. p. 115.
Hofrichter, Frima Fox. In Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat., The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., 1983, p. 129, and fig. 26.
Keyes, George S. Esaias van den Velde 1587-1630. Doornspijk, 1984, pp. 30, 120-22, cat. no. 7, pl. 1.
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 210.
The oak panel is a single board; the verso is rough-sawn and the edges champfered. In 1958 the verso was coated with saran and a masonite backing board was applied. The left, right, and bottom edges of the panel may have been cut, as the thin white ground extends to the edges on these sides but not to the top edge. Underdrawing, probably done in black chalk, is visible in the trees, and in the castle and bridge at left; this is not uncommon in works by the artist and conveys his considerable facility as a draftsman.4 The pigments have become more transparent with age, notably in the foreground figures. In the foliage, a thin reddish-brown glaze is applied over the white ground to create the shadows, then the more opaque pigment of the individual leaves is applied in dots. This technique, also found in other early landscapes by the artist, results in a lighter appearance and an almost palpable movement in the trees.
1. Wolfgang Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century (London, 1966), p. 20; and idem, Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College (Oberlin, 1967), p. 154.
2. Oil on panel, 20 x 32 cm; reproduced in George S. Keyes, Esaias van den Velde 1587-1630 (Doornspijk, 1984), p. 122, cat. 14, ill. fig. 2.
3. Undated note in the museum files.
4. See David Bomford, "Techniques of the Early Dutch Landscape Painters," in Dutch Landscape, The Early Years: Haarlem and Amsterdam 1590-1650 (exh. cat., The National Gallery, London, 1986), pp. 52-53.