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A Winter Landscape. Black chalk, grey wash, framing line in pen and brown ink. 16.8 x 26.5 cm. Signed and dated: “P. Molyn 1656”. Watermark: Post horn. Beck 123.
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This remarkably well preserved drawing is one of Pieter de Molijn’s late works. A large number of drawings dating to the 1650s have been handed down, most of which were executed in the same technique – black chalk with grey washes – and generally in a largely identical format. These drawings, often signed and dated by the artist, were autonomous works of art intended for direct sale. Molijn produced these landscapes in his studio using sketches drawn from nature. The pictorial compositions do not appear artificial, however, and are remarkable for the keen powers of observation and vibrant sense of nature they reveal.
The present drawing is a particularly fine example of Molijn’s skills as a draughtsman. The artist has sketched a Dutch winter landscape scene with great accuracy of line. A billow of smoke rises from the chimney of a picturesque farmstead. The bare, windswept branches suggest raw winter cold; a man with a sledge, occasional skaters and a couple with a child, bent slightly against the frosty wind, illustrate the daily struggle with the elements. The light wash, applied with perfect accuracy, bathes the landscape in a cool, late afternoon light. From the E. Calando Collection (Lugt 837). Exhibition: Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1970, no. 67.