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Pynacker spent three years in Italy in the 1640s and on his return to Amsterdam became one of the leading Italianate painters in the Netherlands. This picture features many stylistic characteristics of his Amsterdam phase – cool tonality, sharp definition, and an almost surreal focus on the foreground group of birches to the left, rendered with illusionistic detail.

The blue leaves are the result of a chemical change over time, presumably the result of the fading of the yellow pigment originally mixed with blue to make green. This painting is regarded as one of Pynacker's outstanding achievements.

Details

  • Title: Landscape with Sportsmen and Game
  • Date: c.1665
  • Physical Dimensions: w1987 x h1378 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • null: Possibly one of the pictures by Pynacker that comprised the decoration of a room in the house of Cornelis Backer at 548 Herengracht, Amsterdam, described in a poem by Pieter Verhoek. If DPG86 was painted for Backer, it is unlikely to date before 1665, the date of the completion of his house. Harwood accepts a date of c. 1665. The defecating dog seems to derive from the work of Ludolfde Jongh (R.E. Fleischer; Ludolfde Jough, Doornspijk, 1989, p.57 and fig.48). The foreground leaves have turned blue through the fading of a yellow pigment.Version: possibly HdG no. 72A scene of Huntsmen by Ludolph de Jongh formerly on the art market reproduces the dogs (photocopy in file, but not dated, nor is the auction house noted).John Crome painted a watercolour of Silver Birches (Norwich Castle Museum, inv. no. 112.536), a copy of part of Pynacker's Landscape with Sportsmen and Game. He also produced a copy dated 1820 of DPG87, Hobbema, Wooded landscape with a Water-mill (private collection, Suffolk).
  • Work Nationality: Dutch
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: ?Amsterdam, no. 548 Heerengracht, Cornelis Backer (1633-1681) coll., bef. 1681; Leiden, C. Backer sale, 16 Aug. 1775, lot 4. Bt Delfos for 1310 fl; Paris, van Leyden sale, 10 Sep. 1804, lot 75. Bt Paillet for Ff 3500; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: A Pynacker [AP in monogram]
  • Further Information: Long one of the most popular paintings at Dulwich, and a key work in Pynacker’s œuvre, Landscape with Sportsmen and Gameis one of his larger compositions, and a superb example of his mature style. Pynacker’s pictures of the 1660s are characterised by bright colours set against a cooler tonality, a harder style, and an interest in ambiguous space with sudden transitions between foreground and middle ground, all of which are present here. It is particularly impressive that Pynacker has managed to make the small group of figures in the centre of the picture dominate their expansive environment. Of particular interest is the defecating dog in the centre foreground—a naturalistic element that makes the viewer feel as though they have happened unannounced upon the gathering.
  • Artist: Adam Pynacker
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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