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Getty Museum Acquires Monumental Landscape by 17th-Century Dutch Master

June 27, 2002

Los Angeles--The J. Paul Getty Museum today announced the acquisition of A Wooded Landscape with Travelers on a Path through a Hamlet, a major work by Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709), one of the foremost Dutch landscape painters of the 17th century. The painting is a very well-preserved example of the artist’s work, and its exceptional quality and impressive scale (38 x 51 1/2 in.) make it an outstanding addition to the Dutch landscapes in the Getty’s collection. It is currently on view in the Getty Museum’s East Pavilion.

Executed around 1665, the painting depicts a lively rural scene—a broad, rutted road and a narrow, elevated path winding through a wooded dune landscape interspersed with cottages and barns, and populated with denizens and travelers. Particularly evident in this work is the artist’s technique, which combines textured impasto and delineating brushstrokes to impart a sensation of energy and movement.

“This work represents Hobbema at the apex of his artistic achievement and we are very fortunate to have acquired it,” said Deborah Gribbon, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and vice president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “It is a superb example of the genre of the wooded landscape, and a wonderful addition to the Getty’s collection.”

Another important new acquisition made this spring is Paul Gauguin’s Head with Horns, a wood sculpture created in Tahiti and thought to be a symbolic self-portrait. This rare work will go on view at the Getty Museum after its display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 18 through October 20, 2002, in the exhibition Gauguin in New York Collections.

A Focus on Landscapes

Throughout his career, Hobbema concentrated almost exclusively on wooded landscapes. He produced approximately 200 paintings, and the dozen or so large-scale works of the mid-1660s are among his most successfully realized works.

“What distinguishes A Wooded Landscape with Travelers is its clever organization and subtle execution,” noted Scott Schaefer, curator of paintings, J. Paul Getty Museum. “It vividly demonstrates the unrivalled command of light, atmosphere, and landscape motifs for which the artist was renowned.”

An archetypal example of the forest landscape, A Wooded Landscape with Travelers is suffused with warm sunlight dispersed by cumulus clouds and shaggy canopies of oak trees. Light animates the features of the rolling terrain, casting dramatic shadows around the tree stump and fallen logs in the foreground, and illuminating crisp, bright foliage, sandy clearings, and woody copses in the rest of the scene. Grandly conceived and masterfully executed, the painting reveals Hobbema at his most inventive.

The Artist and His Style

Born in 1638 in Amsterdam, Hobbema was orphaned at an early age. He received his artistic training under one of the greatest and most influential artists of the Dutch Golden Age, Jacob van Ruisdael (about 1628/29-1682). By 1660, his mentor’s powerful influence was apparent in Hobbema’s works; he had adopted many of Ruisdael’s characteristic elements—diagonal roads, powerful treatment of trees, and a brooding palette of deep browns and grays. During this period, Hobbema focused on wooded landscapes, exploring nuances of composition and lighting that led him to develop his own distinctive style in keeping with his lively view of nature.

Hobbema’s works after 1662 exhibit a remarkable freshness and breadth of composition that signal the beginning of his artistic maturity. His greatest paintings exhibit a lush palette and painterly touch that became the hallmark of his art. In these canvases, the innovative use of patches of sunlight to lead the eye into the scene and the rhythms established by the organization of distant fields, reflective pools, and intimate glades, distinguish his landscapes from those of his contemporaries.

Despite his success, Hobbema appears to have substantially curtailed his activities as a painter after 1668. In that year, he married and assumed the position of wine gauger or tax collector. Only a few works have been firmly attributed to him between 1671 and his late masterpiece, The Avenue at Middelharnis (London, National Gallery), painted in 1689. Hobbema died a pauper in Amsterdam in 1709.

Note to editors: color images available upon request.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum's mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.