Dulwich Picture Gallery I


Aert van der NEER

Gorinchem/Gorkum, c. 1603–Amsterdam, 9 November 1677
Dutch painter and draughtsman

Aert or Aernout van der Neer spent his youth in Arkel near the riverbank town of Gorinchem (Gorkum), east of Dordrecht, and became at first an amateur painter, probably as a result of his contact with Rafael Govertsz. (1597/8–1657) and Joachim Govertsz. Camphuysen (1601/2–59), who were his brothers-in-law. Aelbert Cuyp (1620–91) sometimes painted the staffage figures in his landscapes.

His earliest known work is a genre scene now in Prague, dated 1632. In the following year he appears to have begun to paint landscapes, stylistically influenced by the Camphuysen brothers and the Flemish school of Frankenthal.1 Around that time he moved to Amsterdam. By the mid-1640s he had rejected the influence of the tonal school of Dutch landscape painting (Jan van Goyen (1596–1656)) and established his own style: he began to specialize in winter scenes, towns on fire, sunrises and sunsets, and especially moonlit views of rivers. In 1659 and 1662 he was documented as keeping a tavern, and on 12 December 1662 he was declared bankrupt. He continued to paint, however; and two of his sons, Eglon (1635/6–1703) and Jan van der Neer (1636/7–65), were his pupils. Eglon became famous as a fijnschilder (literally an artist who paints finely, a term used especially for Leiden artists).

Bachman 1966; Bachmann 1982; Zeldenrust 1983; Tissink & De Wit 1987, p. 73; Sutton 1987d; Harwood 1996a; Schulz 2002; Saur, xcii, 2016, p. 106 (T. van der Molen); Ecartico, no. 5589: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/5589 (Aug. 27, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 59047: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/59047 (Aug. 27, 2017).

After Aert van der Neer
DPG340 – A River Scene by Moonlight

17th century; canvas, 57.5 x 74 cm
Inscribed, bottom right: AV DN (AV and DN each as monogram)

?Evening Mail inventory, 1790–91 (Saloon: ‘Vanderneer – Fishermen dragging their nets’); ?List of Pictures to be sold, early 1790s, no. 76 (Saloon: ‘Vanderneer – Moon lights’), 20 gs; ?Desenfans sale, 16 June 1794 (Lugt 5226), lot 467 (‘Vanderneer – Moonlight, with fishermen dragging their nets, on canvas’); ?Desenfans sale, Skinner and Dyke, 28 Feb. 1795 (Lugt 5281), lot 44 (‘V. Der Neer – A Landscape, View on a River, Moon Light, a fine finished picture’) or lot 5, or 27 Feb. 1795, lot 54; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 16, no. 143 (‘Upper-Room – East side of passage / no. 6, View in Holland: by Moonlight – C[anvas] Vanderneer’; 2'7" x 3'2").

Cat. 1817, p. 8, no. 117 (‘SECOND ROOM – West Side; Moonlight; Vanderneer’); Haydon 1817, p. 380, no. 117;2 Cat. 1820, p. 8, no. 117; Cat. 1830, p. 7, no. 112; Jameson 1842, ii, p. 460, no. 112 (Vanderneer?); Bentley’s 1851, pp. 346–7;3 Denning 1858, no. 112 (‘A doubtful picture’); Denning 1859, no. 112 (ascribed to Van der Neer);4 Lejeune, ii, 1864, p. 478 (Van der Neer; Effet de lune (Moon effect)); Sparkes 1876, p. 181, no. 112 (Van der Neer); Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 105, no. 112 (Van der Neer);5 Havard & Sparkes 1885, p. 201, no. 112 (Van der Neer);6 Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 94, no. 340;7 Cook 1914, p. 206 (copy after Van der Neer);8 HdG, vii, 1918, p. 416, under no. 228 (copy after Van der Neer; Engl. edn 1923, p. 382); Cook 1926, p. 192; Cat. 1953, p. 30 (Aert van der Neer); Murray 1980a, p. 301 (copy after Van der Neer); Beresford 1998, p. 168; Schulz 2002, p. 236, no. 423 (copy after his no. 599; another copy is his no. 848); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 140; RKD, no. 285971: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/285971 (August 28, 2017).

Plain-weave linen. Red ground. Glue-paste lined; the original tacking margins are absent. The side edges are battened and filled with gesso (approximately 0.6 cm wide). Blisters at the edges. Some brittle cupping in the bottom left, and the stretcher marks are showing. There is abrasion down to the ground, particularly in the sky. Many small retouched losses. Previous recorded treatment: 1936, old wormholes in the stretcher filled; 1952–5, Dr Hell.

1) Prime version: Aert van der Neer, River Landscape by Moonlight with Two Fishermen to the Right, monogrammed, canvas, c. 55 x 68 cm. Duke of Sutherland collection, Mertoun House (formerly at Bridgewater House and before that at Stafford House, London).9
2) After no. 1: Moonlight, by I. F. Danthemare after a drawing by William Marshall Craig, 1814, etching, 95 (cut) x 111 mm, in Ottley 1818, iv, no. 94. BM, London, 1860,0211.546 [1].10
3) Copy after no. 1: Aert van der Neer, River Landscape by Moonlight with a Willow, monogrammed, panel, 72 x 86 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Magin sale, Paris, Petit, 23 June 1922, lot 28).11
4) Copy: Aert van der Neer, Paysage au clair de lune… (Landscape in Moonlight), canvas, 63 x 73 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Lucerne, Fischer, 27 July 1926, lot 168).

The Dulwich picture is an almost exact copy of a painting in the collection of George Leveson-Gower, 2d Marquess of Stafford, 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758–1833). A print was made after that painting in 1814 by I. F. Danthemare or Dauthemare (fl. 1803–48), after an intermediary drawing by William Marshall Craig (c. 1765–c. 1834; Related works, nos 1 and 2) [1]. The print was published in an illustrated overview of the Stafford Gallery by William Young Ottley (1771–1836) in 1818.12 It depicts a river scene by moonlight, seen from a high vantage point. The composition is typical of Van der Neer, and reflects his use of the principles of Dutch landscape painting: figures walking along paths, fishermen busy with their nets, skies filled with clouds, and a restricted palette. In the middle is a fishing boat with a braided basket in which fish were kept alive.13 The moonlight is emphasized on many of the trees and figures.

Aert van der Neer’s works were highly prized in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, and many copies were produced for that market. His nocturnes were particularly in demand, and many versions and copies were made of the composition of which the Dulwich picture is itself a reproduction (Related works, nos 3 and 4).

after Aert van der Neer
River scene by moonlight, c. 1628-1699
canvas, oil paint 57,5 x 74 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG340

John Francis Dauthemare after William Marshall Craig after Aert van der Neer
Moonlight, dated 1814
paper, etching 95 x 111 mm
topside (positional attribute) : MOONLIGHT. / 94
London (England), British Museum, inv./cat.nr. 1860,0211.546


1 For Frankenthal c. 1600 see Hürkey 1995.

2 ‘Arnold Van der Neer. Scene by Moonlight on a river; the reflection of the moon on the water is finely displayed.’

3 ‘As for that “Moonlight” (No. 112), by Vanderneer, it looks as if it were painted in treacle, and not well painted either.’

4 ‘This is not equal to Van der Neer’s best style. (It would be dangerous to assert positively that he ever touched it.)’ The brackets round the last sentence are in pencil.

5 ‘This artist has painted some two hundred river scenes by moonlight without repeating himself.’

6 ‘fairly representative of the painter’.

7 ‘There is a similar picture to this at Stafford House.’ See the following note.

8 ‘The original of this picture was in the Duke of Sutherland’s collection at Stafford House.’

9 Schulz 2002, p. 275, no. 599 (no ill.).

10 RKD, no. 297648: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/297648 (July 8, 2020); see also https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1860-0211-546 (May 1, 2020). Ottley 1818, iv, class iii (Schools of Germany, Flanders, Holland, etc.), p. 109, no. 94: ‘Arnold Vanderneer. Nat. 1619, ob. 1683. Moonlight. A most beautiful picture. Fishermen dragging their nets, and in the distance a village spire. The reflection of the moon, and of the clouds illumined by its rays, upon the water, is admirably expressed. The picture is painted on canvas, and measures 2 foot 10 inches in height, by 2 feet 3 inches in width [sic].’ ‘I. F. Danthemare’ is the inscription below the print, as is the date (Feb. 1814); according to the British Museum website the printmaker is J. F. Dauthemare (fl. 1803–48). About this artist nothing more is known than that he was an engraver, made some of the etchings in the Ottley volumes, and was mentioned in 1848.

11 Schulz 2002, p. 354, no. 848.

12 About the collection of the Duke of Sutherland see Humfrey 2019. The Duke was one of the patrons portrayed by Pieter Christoffel Wonder (1777–1852) c. 1826–30, who was then living in London; see RKD, no. 265511: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/265511 (May 1, 2020); about Wonder’s picture and the people and paintings depicted in it see Bergvelt 2015.

13 Such a basket can also be seen in DPG327 by Ludolf Bakhuizen: email from Remmelt Daalder to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 28 March 2018 (DPG340 file), for which many thanks. See also note 20 in the Bakhuizen entry, and RKD, no. 33972: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/33972 (May 1, 2020).

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