The date on this thinly painted panel is almost certainly 1653, the last year in which Van Goyen is known to have painted beach scenes (the first known example is dated 1632). At seaside villages the beach was something akin to the market square, with villagers gathered to greet the fresh catch and to chat at the end of the workday.
This beach scene of the early 1650s is deftly sketched almost entirely in tones of brown, with glimpses of blue sky above the windswept clouds. The forms and movements of the clouds are described by broad and very thin brushwork, making the virtuoso execution of the sky a major part of this painterly exercise.
The scene was one witnessed almost every day near the coastal towns of seventeenth-century Holland. Similar subjects were recorded in many paintings by Van Goyen and others, and in dozens of drawings by Van Goyen dating from his early years onward. His painted beach scenes date back to at least 1632. The artist returned to the theme many times during the 1630s and 1640s; he appears to have abandoned it about 1653. The date on this picture has been read as 1651 but appears to be 1653. Circumstantial support for this reading comes from the fact that Van Goyen drew many beach views in 1652 and especially 1653, and because his last known paintings of beaches include works from 1649 and 1653 but none from between these dates. Furthermore, this panel was paired in the past with a river view (private collection) of exactly the same size that is dated 1653. The pictures were separated in the art trade shortly after they left the Earl of Mar and Kellie's collection in 1929.
[2011; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (on boat in foreground): vG 165[3?]
Earl of Mar and Kellie, Scotland; [Asscher & Welker, London, in 1929]; Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey Hart, London; Mrs. Geoffrey Hart, London (in 1952); [Edward Speelman, London, in about 1958]; sale, Sotheby's, London, June 27, 1962, no. 26, for £6,000 to Terry-Engell; [H. Terry-Engell Gallery, London, from 1962]; [Gebr. Douwes, Amsterdam, by 1963–at least 1964]; [Hans M. Cramer, The Hague, in 1981]; Frits and Rita Markus, New York (until his d. 1996); Rita Markus, New York (1996–d. 2005)
Worthing, England. Worthing Art Gallery. "Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Collection of Mrs. Geoffrey Hart," July 19–August 30, 1952, no. 25 (as "Coast Scene").
London. H. Terry-Engell Gallery. "Fine Paintings of the Seventeenth Century Dutch, Flemish, and French Schools," November 6–December 15, 1962, no. 13 (as "A Coast Scene with Figures").
Delft. Museum "Het Prinsenhof". "XVe oude Kunst- en Antiekbeurs der Vereniging van Handelaren in Oude Kunst in Nederland," June 20–July 13, 1963 (ill.) [see Ref. Beck 1973].
Florence. Palazzo Strozzi. "3a Biennale: Mostra Mercato Internazionale dell' Antiquariato," September 14–October 14, 1963, unnumbered cat. (ill. p. 245, lent by Kunsthandel Gebr. Douwes).
Amsterdam. Gebr. Douwes. "Tentoonstelling van Schilderijen en Tekeningen," April 28–May 28, 1964, no. 12 [see Ref. Beck 1973].
Amsterdam. K. & V. Watermann. "Jan van Goyen, 1596–1656: Conquest of Space," 1981, unnumbered cat. (pp. 136–37, as "Beach View," lent from a private collection).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum," July 26–October 10, 2011, no catalogue.
"Dutch, Flemish and French Old Masters on Exhibition at the Terry-Engell Gallery." Illustrated London News (October 27, 1962), p. 663, ill., reads the date as 1651.
"Old Master Paintings at the Terry-Engell Gallery." Connoisseur 151 (November 1962), ill. p. 181, reads the date as 1651.
"Notable Works of Art Now on the Market." Burlington Magazine (Supplement) 104 (December 1962), unpaginated, pl. XIV, reads the date as 1651.
Hans-Ulrich Beck. Jan van Goyen, 1596–1656. Vol. 2, Katalog der Gemälde. Amsterdam, 1973, pp. 393, 432–33, no. 962, ill., reads the date as 1653; calls it the pendant to no. 875 ("Zwei Fischerkähne," private collection) [see Notes].
Hans-Ulrich Beck. Jan van Goyen, 1596–1656. Vol. 3, Ergänzungen zum Katalog der Handzeichnungen und Ergänzungen zum Katalog der Gemälde. Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1987, p. 255, no. 962.
Walter Liedtke in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2005–2006." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 64 (Fall 2006), p. 36.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 65, 67.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 242–43, no. 55, colorpl. 55.