The Mouth of the River (Sailboats in a Light Breeze)

Jan van Goyen1655

Kunsthalle Bremen

Kunsthalle Bremen
Bremen, Germany

The Mouth of the River is a typical late work by the Dutch painter Jan van Goyen. Unlike the colorful Village Landscape of 1625, regarded as one of the artist’s early works, and also in the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen, the virtuoso Mouth of the River was executed with a limited color palette on a light brown ground. In the foreground, we see two sailboats and a fishing boat; in the background, we can make out a strip of land that has all but vanished in the mist—a motif van Goyen used repeatedly to depict his homeland. The composition is dominated by monumental clouds that take up three-quarters of the picture plane, underscoring the forces of nature. The low horizon lends depth to the composition, the water surfaces extending to the sides to give breadth, whereby the sky and the ground seem to merge into each other. Van Goyen painted this piece using free, nearly transparent brushstrokes that reflect the movement of the water and the clouds, but which also forced him to work swiftly. On a free art market, such as the one that had developed in the Netherlands of the 17th century, artists had to be productive: Today, some 1,200 paintings and 800 drawings are known to be by van Goyen’s hand.


  • Title: The Mouth of the River (Sailboats in a Light Breeze)
  • Creator: Jan van Goyen
  • Date Created: 1655
  • Physical Dimensions: 50.0 x 71.8 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil on oak

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