River landscape with horsemen and peasants | Aelbert Cuyp | 1660
The Dutch Golden Age occurred in the 17th century and it was a time when the local trade, science and art were recognized throughout the world. In painting, artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, van Ruisdael and Fran Hals, all of them developed their work during this period.
In the middle of the country’s flourishment, Aelbert Cuyp, a descendant from a family of painters, was born. He learns to paint with his parents and soon they see in him an innate talent for drawing which, from schemes, he would take to his studio to turn them into oil paintings.
Cuyp is now known for the great views and landscapes of Dutch suburbs which he painted with the light of dawn or dusk.
His landscapes are quiet, relaxing, with an enviable technique and a exquisite handling of light. In the case of River landscape with horsemen and peasants, we see a scene where some cows rest at a road under the shadow of trees. We see a horseman, who I think owns the cattle, wondering on his horse while he listens one of his laborers. In the background, a shepherd leads his sheep, while other peasants walk minding their own business. Definitely about to break the harmony of the situation, far right on the painting, we can see a crouched individual with a rifle aiming some ducks that swim in the lake.
However, there are no main characters in this painting. Cuyp does not seem to want to tell any story or try to send any message and, still, we can feel the peace he wants to express. The soft, warm and horizontal light calms us and makes us want to close our eyes to take a nap. Well, that happens to me, at least…