WITHOOS, Matthias
(b. 1627, Amersfoort, d. 1703, Hoorn)

Landscape with a Graveyard by Night

Oil on canvas
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Reims

Matthias Withoos was the follower of Otto Marseus van Schrieck (1619-78). Although Withoos also painted topographical views, harbours and portraits, they are best known for their mysterious dark close-ups of the live undergrowth of forest floors that give detailed views of wild flowers, weeds, thistles, and mushrooms animated by phosphorescent butterflies, insects, reptiles, and snakes. These works, strictly speaking not still-lifes, have always appealed to collectors of highly finished Dutch cabinet pictures. Naturalists have a field day identifying their flora and fauna, and so do iconographers who give detailed commentaries on their content, which are generally related to the transience theme.

Van Schrieck and Withoos travelled to Italy in 1648. Withoos returned to the Netherlands in 1653 where he settled in his native Amersfoort; there he painted an imposing panoramic view of the town and was the teacher of Caspar van Wittel who popularizes veduta painting.

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