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Adam Pynacker

Cowherd in an Italian Landscape


Adam Pynacker
Schiedam, Holland, about 1620 – Amsterdam 1673


Cowherd in an Italian Landscape


About 1650-1653


Oil on canvas


50.2 x 43.1 cm


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 2014.77


Western Art

Although Pynacker’s paintings strongly suggest travel to Italy, we have no independent confirmation of such a voyage; however, the artist’s earliest dated work (1650) depicts an Italianate seaport. One reason for the lack of documentation may be that Pynacker’s father was a highly successful wine merchant and the son may have been involved in commercial ventures for him, and thus did not register with local artist guilds. His mother came from a prominent Delft family. The two major artistic influences on Pynacker were Asselijn and, especially, Both, whose works, particularly their Italianate landscapes with golden light effects impacted a range of artists. Pynacker’s choice of motifs, including wooded mountain landscapes and harbour views, derives from those earlier artists. Yet the artist’s style is distinctive and assured in its striking use of radiant light and relatively simply composed landscapes with clear, orthogonally placed elements to emphasize depth. Human and animal figures establish scale and animate the compositions, tall trees in the foreground sheltering figures within them. The artist took particular delight in exploring the natural details of gnarled, rough bark and tree trunks, as well as in exquisitely complex rendering of spreading branches and leaves caught in sunlight.

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