(b. 1622, Amsterdam, d. 1678, Venezia)

Italian Landscape with a Young Shepherd

Oil on panel, 31 x 38 cm
Mauritshuis, The Hague

In many ways Karel Dujardin is the most Dutch of the Italianate painters. His bucolic landscapes are done on a small scale, and have an intimacy lacking in pictures made by Italianates who used a larger format and more ambitious motifs. Dujardin was apprenticed to Berchem and probably travelled to Italy in the late 1640s or early 1650s, but like so many other Dutch Italianate artists of his generation this early trip south cannot be substantiated. In 1652 he was in Amsterdam and during the next few years his art took an unexpected turn. Instead of settling down in Holland to paint views of the Campagna and the vita popolare of Rome, as most Italianate Dutch painters did after their documented or putative trips to Italy, he made pictures of the Dutch countryside which are closely related to Paulus Potter's carefully executed small paintings of cattle in sunny meadows and woods. During this phase it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the hand of Potter from Dujardin's.

By the end of the 1650s he began once again to paint bambocciate and modest Italian pastoral scenes. His Young Shepherd, datable to the early 1660s, shows him at his best. The theme is simple. A young boy lies on his back playing with his dog. The sheep, the old grazing horse, and the basket and keg appear to lie about in a haphazard fashion. In a black and white reproduction, only the mountains tell us that this is not a Dutch scene, but when the original or even a good colour reproduction is viewed, warm Italian air and the strong shimmering light of the south permeate it.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.