(b. ca. 1610, Dieppe, d. 1652, Amsterdam)

Italian Landscape with the Ruins of a Roman Bridge and Aqueduct

Oil on canvas, 67 x 82 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Asselijn studied for some time in France and Rome. On his return to Amsterdam, he specialized in painting animals and Italianate landscapes, which occupied a firm place in Dutch painting. Motifs of the Roman Campagna, ruins, rocks and castles generally dominate his settings peopled with riders and herdsmen. Yet his works owe less to real landscapes than to painterly tradition. Some typical features of the work by this Italianate Dutch artist are the way he bathes his landscapes in atmospherically "romantic" golden hues influenced by Claude Lorrain's handling of light, or adopts picturesque motifs in the manner of Salvator Rosa.

Italianate as they may be, these paintings are nevertheless easily identifiable as the work of a Dutch artist, for the genre generally lacks the pathos formula of the Baroque and the antique ruins tend to blend into the rest of the landscape like elements in a srill-life. The genre components can be found in the procession of mules, their riders and the figures on the bridge.

Like a piece of broken bread or a cracked earthenware jug, the ruins unfurl their melancholy beauty in the tranquil evening light, recalling the transcience of earthly life in a highly aesthetic way.