(b. 1619, Amsterdam, d. 1688, Amsterdam)
Village on a Hill1651
Oil on canvas, 61 x 83 cm
Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur
Koninck is one of the last generation of Dutch landscape painters. In the 1660s, there was a general tendency to "upgrade" the various genres. During this period, the interiors of Vermeer and de Hooch became increasingly elegant, and even the still-lifes were freighted with "noblesse". In the work of Koninck, this trend even affected the landscapes, in which he positioned courtly figures and palatial architecture.
In the 1650s, by contrast, when Koninck was at the height of his creative powers, he produced landscapes of exceptional purity, bringing the flat panoramic landscape to its greatest perfection. A soft and golden light is cast across the flat countryside, illuminating things that are, in themselves, uninteresting: sandy dunes, the occasional tree, some water, a village. There is nothing remarkable or jarring. The sensation is where the brown earth is bathed in sunlight to a golden hue.
Koninck was influenced by Rembrandt's landscape painting, which represents a chapter in its own right within his enormous oeuvre. Rembrandt's influence is evident in the golden-brown tone of his paintings and in the way Koninck occasionally integrates unexpected and fantastic objects such as a glittering bridge spanning the water, a ruin or a fairy-tale castle.