At some time around 1657, the Dutch landscape painter Philip de Koninck (1619–1688) moved, on his second marriage, to the city of Amsterdam, where he is reputed to have worked in Rembrandt’s workshop, either as a pupil or an assistant.
Few of his portraits or genre paintings seem accessible now, but I was intrigued by this Young Woman Leaning Out of a Window; Holding a Necklace from 1664. I don’t think it is just the old varnish, but that cheeky smile looks fairly grubby. We can only imagine who she might have been, and why she’s grinning out of this window.
De Koninck’s Panoramic Landscape from 1665 appears to be set once again in the countryside not far from the city of Haarlem, judging by the white dunes in the distance. Haarlem isn’t far from Amsterdam, of course. At the right is a rather grander property, with woodland and walls and a small tower. At the lower left are a couple of travellers on the road, and behind them a more workaday farm, with a shepherd out tending their small flock.
By about 1675, de Koninck’s foregrounds become even more fascinating. In An Extensive Wooded Landscape, a horseman has stopped to speak to a couple at the roadside at the left, a couple are walking further down the road, and there’s a posh pleasureboat making its way along the river at the right, its large blue flag hanging limp in the still air.
River Landscape (1676) from the following year rearranges the same staffage. The boat can here be seen more clearly, as its single oarsman takes a small group of people along the river.
A couple of hunters are rushing along in the foreground of Bleaching Fields Near Haarlem from about 1675, one with dogs and the other with a gun. There’s a white animal lying low in the rough land to the right, which could be their quarry, perhaps. The bleaching fields were used to process linen, which was laid out there in the sunshine until it became white enough to use. Behind the bank of trees is a tantalising glimpse of the skyline of the city of Haarlem, its characteristic Grote Kerk (or Sint-Bavokerk) being the most prominent feature.
That’s the last painting that I have of de Koninck’s with a date, but here are four which remain undated.
The Entrance to the Woods is more typical of the better-known landscape masters of the Dutch Golden Age. Towering rows of ancient oaks almost obliterate the sky. From between their twisted trunks comes a herd of cows.
View of Saxenburg Estate With Bleaching Fields Near Haarlem shows one of the estates just outside the city of Haarlem, whose massive Grote Kerk is again visible at the far right of the skyline. This demonstrates the relationship with Rembrandt: the latter’s etching The Goldweigher’s Field from 1651 shows a very similar view of the same estate. At that time, it was owned by Christoffel Thijs, who sold Rembrandt his house in the city of Amsterdam. The city house is now Rembrandt House Museum, but this estate has long since disappeared.
Many of de Koninck’s panoramas are painted on panels or canvases of normal proportions, they just look wide. Flat Landscape With a Broad River is more unusual for his use of a proper panoramic, or marine, format. It also appears more sketchy, and has little staffage, as if it may even have been painted in front of the motif.
His Landscape With a Man Standing by a Boathouse is probably more representative of his working methods: a careful sketch made en plein air, transferred to the studio, where he then worked more slowly at turning this view into a finished oil painting. If he did that using this sketch, then the finished painting doesn’t appear to have survived.
Philip de Koninck died on 4 October 1688, just a month short of his sixty-ninth birthday. I love his landscapes, and could spend all day in them: today, let’s remember his birth, career, and paintings.