Oil on panel
11 7/8 x 17 3/8 inches (30.2 x 44.1 cm.)
Framed: 18 1/8 x 23 1/2 inches
Signed: JH Weissenbruch
Private collection, USA
Hendrik Johannes (later Jan Hendrik) Weissenbruch was born in The Hague. At sixteen he took drawing-lessons and later followed evening classes at the Hague Academy. His father was an amateur painter and collected work by artists such as Andreas Schelfhout. Schelfhout’s influence can be seen in Weissenbruch’s early, vast landscapes, painted in precise detail. His magnificent, cloudy skies show his admiration for the seventeenth-century artist Jacob van Ruisdael, whose work he saw at an early age in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. An impressive portrayal of sky and light was one of Weissenbruch’s strongest points. He painted in the open air and let himself be guided as far as possible by nature itself ‘What I really want is to get nature itself on the canvas,’ Weissenbruch once said. ‘Sometimes nature can make a real impact. If I can get that same impact later, I can draw and paint what I have seen. I make a sketch with a few charcoal scribbles. At home I conjure it up in paints.’
In this landscape by Weissenbruch one can see many of his trademarks at play, particularly the vast and ominously cloudy sky that dominates the painting’s upper half. Below, the rolling farmlands seem to take on a dark cast as a result of the shadowy light. In the distance, the landscape fades into an ocean or perhaps lake dotted with boats, whose pale grays mimic those of the sky above. Weissenbruch’s masterful handling of light leaves the viewer with a strong sense of the impending storm.