Verboeckhoven was a leading nineteenth-century animalier painter who specialized in livestock. In this view, which includes a diminutive pair of deer at bottom center, he reversed the scale of figure to ground typical of his compositions, resulting in one of his rare pure landscapes. It was perhaps inspired by the scenery of the Ardennes forest, which he visited in the 1820s. A characteristic feature of Verboeckhoven’s mature work is its reliance on pedantic detail, which is absent here. This painting’s naturalist aesthetic reflects the enduring appeal of seventeenth-century Dutch landscapists, notably Adam Pynacker, and perhaps the young artist’s receptivity to current trends in landscape painting in evidence at the salons of Paris and northern France in the 20s. It also bears a vestigial affinity with picturesque views by Verboeckhoven’s teacher, Balthasar Paul Ommeganck (1755–1826), for example Landscape with a Wooden Bridge of 1791 (see Richard Kerremans in Denis Coekelberghs and Pierre Loze, eds., 1770–1830: Autour du neo-classicisme en Belgique, exh. cat., Musée communal des Beaux-Arts d’Ixelles, Brussels, 1985, pp. 302–3, no. 263, colorpl. 30, as collection Galerie d’Arenberg, Brussels).
[2013; based on research undertaken in conjuction with Miller 2013]