KONINCK, Philips
(b. 1619, Amsterdam, d. 1688, Amsterdam)

An Extensive Landscape with a Road by a Ruin

Oil on canvas, 137,4 x 167,3 cm
National Gallery, London

Among his contemporaries, Philips Koninck was known as a figure painter, specializing in portraits as well as in genre and religious scenes, rather than as a landscapist as he is known today. He was born in Amsterdam, the son of a successful goldsmith, and trained in the studio of his brother, Jacob, who worked in Rotterdam. Subsequently he returned to Amsterdam, where he lived for the rest of his life. Koninck was a wealthy man, owning a company which operated trekschuiten (horse-drawn passenger barges) between Rotterdam and Amsterdam. He seems to have been a friend rather than a pupil of Rembrandt but he was certainly influenced by him in his manner of painting(and drawing) biblical subjects.

Koninck's landscapes are characterized by a high viewpoint and a sky which occupies at least half of the picture space. They are cloudscapes as much as extensive landscapes. He emphasizes the flatness of Holland, a more realistic approach than, for example, that of Aelbert Cuyp, who attempts to make his landscapes more varied by the inclusion of hills and mountains taken from his imagination rather than from his observation of the Dutch countryside. The landscape with a high sky was particularly in favour in the 1650s and 1660s, not just in the work of Koninck, but also in that of Jacob van Ruisdael and also in the etched landscapes of Rembrandt.

This painting of 1655 is an outstanding example of Koninck's landscape art. The colours, which in some of his canvases have sunk into uniform browns and greys with the passage of time, are particularly vivid and the painting is remarkably well preserved.

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