Private collection, California
Abraham Govaerts was the son of Elisabeth Yselstein and William Govaerts, a dealer in second-hand clothes and paintings. Govaerts was admitted as a master to the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1607/1608. Later he became a student of Jan Brueghel I. He became well known for his landscape paintings.
In 1609 he bought two houses on the St. Jansstraat next to his parents’ home. On February 9, 1622, he married Isabella Gillis, and they had two daughters. He trained a number of painters, including Hans Groenrijs (1617), Andries van den Bogaerde (1619 and 1620), Niclaes Aertsen, Gysbrecht van den Berch, and Frans Snyders (the last three from 1623 to 1624).
In our piece, A Landscape, Abraham Govaerts has depicted an idyllic landscape scene. The viewer’s eye is immediately drawn to the small cottage surrounded by tall trees in the moonlit forest. The low foreground is closed in on the left by a large tree extending beyond the frame, which lends a monumental touch to the composition. Govaerts has painted the foliage in minute detail, distinguished by luminous green tones. The rendering of protruding stems and reeds adds to the fairytale feel of the piece. This is further enhanced by the way in which the moon bathes the scene in a silvery light. On the right side of the piece, a pathway tunnels toward a brilliantly lit clearing in the center. On either side, coulisses of gnarled trees frame two different views into the depths of the forest. The artist’s attentive rendering of the different textures reveals his painterly skills.