Meyndert Hobbema
(Amsterdam, 1638-1709, Amsterdam)
Landscape with Inn, ca. 1665
Oil on panel, 47 x 53.5 cm
Signed lower left: M. Hobbema

A sandy pathway rutted by cart-wheels winds its way through scrubby trees that can barely survive in the meagre soil and are stunted and ravaged by the wind. To this day on the Dutch coast one can verify the accuracy of the observation of nature here. Buildings huddle out of the wind among the trees; only corners are visible, whose weathered grey wood seems to have fused with the gnarled vegetation. A painted wooden sign shows that the house on the right is an inn. On the ridgepole a stork is nesting. A few country people serve as "accessories" to animate the scene. The composition is simple. The fundamental tones are rural peace and trueness to local reality. The woodland is flooded with light, which invests the picture with its warm summery atmosphere. The painting is rich and relaxed, the paint applied with a loaded brush in small spots and sure strokes. The schematic, and also pedantic "foliage" of other painters was not for Hobbema. He employs his brush freely, like nature herself. This picture can be dated by comparison with the few dated paintings by Hobbema, but it is not certain, because throughout his work the light-flooded forest remains his unvarying theme, and his style of painting also remained constant. The English painter John Crome (1768-1821) copied this painting by Hobbema around 1790, along with other old masters, having, like many other painters in the 19th century, found Hobbema to be a kindred spirit.