View of Vienne on the Rhone

Hendrick (Cornelisz) Vroom Netherlandish

Not on view

Hendrick Vroom is mostly known as the ‘father of the Dutch seascape’, famous for his detailed depictions of ships and naval battles on open waters. This tranquil river landscape, in comparison, is of a somewhat different character. The sheet belongs to a group of ten landscapes that are among Vroom’s earliest known drawings.[1] According to a contemporary inscription on the back, the artist depicted a view from the banks of the Rhône river, looking towards the city of Vienne, France. A punter is drifting downstream, on the sunlit waters. Through the strongly accentuated repoussoir in the right foreground and the shadow cast on the waterfront, Vroom effectively added depth to the composition and at the same time gave the image a certain, attractive luminosity, suggestive of a summer’s day in Southern France.

The set of ten drawings to which this View of Vienne belongs is a comprehensive group that features fanciful landscapes along the Rhone and Aix en Provence. They were made during or shortly after Vroom’s return from Italy around 1589. Given their high finish, it is likely that the drawings were not made on the spot, but rather were based on preliminary sketches that Vroom had recorded in a sketchbook.

[1] Other drawings from this group are. amongst others, in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (inv. no. (WA1946.368), the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (RP-T-1993-137), and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (inv. no. PD 886-1963). For a study of the Rhône drawings, cf. M. Russell, Visions of the Sea. Hendrick C. Vroom and the Origins of Dutch Marine Painting, Leiden: Brill, 1983, pp. 105–11.

View of Vienne on the Rhone, Hendrick (Cornelisz) Vroom (Dutch, Haarlem ca. 1563–1640 Haarlem), Pen and brown ink; framing lines in pen and brown ink

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