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Aert van der Neer initially painted realistic tonal landscapes and winter scenes, but by the late 1640s, he developed his own specialty of nocturnes, or night scenes. These mysteriously dark, moonlit pictures established him as an innovative and important landscape painter. Nevertheless, from about 1659 he took on a second, rather short-lived career as a tavern keeper in Amsterdam. He went bankrupt in 1662 and at the time of his death in 1677 was quite heavily in debt.


Van der Neer used his consummate technical skills to create this nocturne’s radiance by applying multiple layers of translucent and opaque paint. Here, the luminous clouds have parted to reveal a full moon over a tranquil stream. The moonlight reflects off the water that separates the town at left from the village and the country estate with its ornate gate at right. The light glints off window panes, shines upon a fashionable couple in conversation by the gate, and provides safe passage for the people crossing the stone bridge.

Details

  • Title: Moonlit Landscape with Bridge
  • Creator: Aert van der Neer
  • Date Created: probably 1648/1650
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 78.4 x 110.2 cm (30 7/8 x 43 3/8 in.) framed: 101.6 × 132.7 × 6.4 cm (40 × 52 1/4 × 2 1/2 in.)
  • Provenance: Jacob Frederikszn van Beek, Amsterdam; (his sale, Jeronimo De Vries et al., Amsterdam, 2 June 1828, no. 49); Engelberts.[1] F. Tielens, Brussels. J. Walter, London.[2] Possibly August Thyssen [1842-1926]; his son, Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza [1875-1947), Schloss Rohoncz, Hungary, Amsterdam, and Villa Favorita, Lugano, by at least 1930; by inheritance to his daughter, Gabrielle Thyssen-Bornemisza [1915 or 1917-1999] and her husband, Baron Adolphe Bentinck van Schoonheten [1905-1970], Paris and London.[3] (Galerie Sanct Lucas, Vienna), by 1989; purchased 29 January 1990 by NGA. [1] Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, _A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century_, 8 vols., trans. Edward G. Hawke, London, 1907-1927: 7:406, states that "Engelberts" purchased the picture for 200 florins. An annotated copy of the sale catalogue in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, records the same information (copy in NGA curatorial files). [2] The names of Tielens and Walter were provided by the Galerie Sanct Lucas. [3] According to the Galerie Sanct Lucas, the picture had been in the Thyssen family for three generations before its sale; the Galerie included Baron Bentinck's name in the provenance. Ownership by Thyssen-Bornemisza is also given in Wolfgang Schultz, _Aert van der Neer_, Doornspijk, 2002: no. 528. Although August Thyssen did collect art in his later years, the main Thyssen-Bornemisza collection was formed by his son, Heinrich, at whose death the collection was divided among his four children. The Dutch diplomat Baron Bentinck van Schoonheten married Gabrielle Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1938. The painting was exhibited in Munich in 1930 in an exhibition of works from Schloss Rohoncz, and the painting was on loan as part of the Bentinck-Thyssen collection to the Gemäldegalerie of the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf from 1974 until August 1984 (e-mails of 18 and 23 May 2012, in NGA curatorial files).
  • Medium: oil on panel

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