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Jan Griffier the Elder

(1645 Amsterdam – 1718 London)

A Fantastic Mountain Landscape. Oil on wood. 12.8 x 16.5 cm.

The landscape painter Jan Griffier the Elder was a pupil of Roelant Roghman in Amsterdam. Around 1667 he emigrated to England where he lived not far from London, preferably on a wine boat on the Thames, from which he could paint views of the capital and its surroundings. In addition to these topographical scenes he painted imaginary landscapes of ruins in Italy. However, the artist became best known for his mostly small-format Rhine and Mosel landscapes in the style of Herman Saftleven, whose acquaintance he may have made during a stay in Rotterdam.

These vedute, rendered from a high vantage point, look down into river valleys surrounded by high mountain ranges and dotted with numerous meticulously drawn buildings, boats and tiny figures. The present delicately painted and perfectly preserved landscape depiction is an exquisite example of his art. The striking, towering mountain ranges are depicted with crystal-clear precision, while the subtle use of atmospheric per­spective makes the landscape appear almost boundless, bathing nature in a warm, golden, afternoon light. The artist succeeds in conveying remarkable poetic power in a very small format. The infinite expanse of the natural setting is reminiscent of the world landscapes in 16th century Flemish painting. Two sty­listically very similar vedute from the former J. Goud­stikker Collection in Amsterdam are recorded in the archives of the Rijksinstituut voor Kunsthistorische Dokumentatie in The Hague.

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