Haarlem 1619 – Haarlem 1668
River Landscape with Bathers
Oil on canvas
68.5 x 104 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 2013.422
Astonishingly skilled in the painting of horses, Wouwerman proved to be one of Haarlem’s most gifted Golden Age artists. Typical of one of his periods of great creativity, this scene is inspired by the myth, one very popular in Italy, of Diana and Actaeon, which recounts how the latter was transformed into a deer after having stumbled upon the goddess bathing with her nymphs. One of the most Italianate subjects in the artist’s oeuvre, with its mountains, obelisk in the middle ground to the left, and ruined bridge reminiscent of Rome’s Ponte Rotto, this powerful landscape evokes Italy. Conceived in the style of a frieze, the panorama owes its silvery atmosphere to a palette of delicate, luminous shades. Filled with numerous bathers, the composition is structured around trees, dunes and rock-strewn mountains, then opens out on the sky.