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Arcadian Landscape with Staffage. Black and white chalk, charcoal soaked in linseed oil on blue paper; black ink framing line. 26.6 x 20.6 cm. Verso signed: J. Andriessen inv.
The artistic career of the painter and draughtsman Jurriaan Andriessen reflects the contemplative nature of the Amsterdam art scene during the second half of the 18th century. The artist served his apprenticeship under Anthony Elliger and Jan Maurits Quinkhard in Amsterdam, becoming a member of the drawing academy there in 1760 and its director in 1794. In the 1760s Andriessen specialized in designs for wallpaper and wall decorations and also made landscapes with accessory figures. However, it is for his achievements as a teacher that he is mainly remembered. Starting in 1805, the artist ran a private academy for nude drawing in his house on the Amstel. The roll of Andriessen’s pupils is long and features such well-known names as Daniel Dupré, Jean Grandjean, Wouter Johannes van Troostwijk and Hendrik Voogt.
The Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam keeps about two hundred of his designs for wall hangings and interior decorations. They consist mainly of drawings in pen and wash, which are executed in a dynamic and free style and mostly comprise idealized southern landscapes matching the taste of the time. Stylistic influences of such 17th century Dutch masters as Jan Wijnants and Adam Pynacker are unmistakable. The present, very hastily sketched drawing occupies a special place in Andriessen’s œuvre. This may well be the only preserved specimen on blue paper and it reveals a technique which also points to 17th century Dutch predecessors. The combination of chalk and charcoal soaked in linseed oil was often used by such artists as Anthonie Waterloo and Simon de Vlieger. Andriessen’s method of drawing is terse and incisive. With just a few strokes he is able to convincingly integrate the staffage figures into the Arcadian landscape. In front of a tall, leafy tree in the background we glimpse sketchily outlined figures standing around a fountain. With great economy of means Andriessen has managed to create an atmospheric and convincingly dimensioned scene from nature.