GEEL, Jacob van
(b. ca. 1585, Middelburg, d. after 1638, Dordrecht?)


Oil on panel, 50 x 72 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This painting is an example of Van Geel's idiosyncratic later works, which he executed in Delft and Dordrecht. In the right foreground the scene is dominated by a solid mass of trees. Below the canopy of dense foliage a few wanderers follow a path that winds past twisted trunks into the deeper recesses of the wood. Toward the left of the picture we are allowed a glimpse into a flat landscape that recedes rapidly past a clearing with trees and a few diminutive figures in the middle ground. The division of the composition into two distinct vistas reflects the Flemish tradition of landscape painting, dating back to the end of the sixteenth century.

The protagonists in this picture - as well as in many other works by Van Geel - are trees with dramatically contorted trunks and gnarled branches, in places heavily overgrown with moss and vines.