There are three paintings by Van Goyen dated 1646 in The Met's collection, and three demonstrating the artist's interest in picturesque medieval architecture (see also 45.146.3
). This example is well preserved, which allows one to appreciate such impressive passages as the cloudy sky and the surface of the water, where the castle, the boat, and the four figures are reflected. The twisting patches of grass, the dappled leaves on the tree to the right, and the impressionistic forms in the distance are reminiscent of the chalk drawings in Van Goyen's sketchbooks of motifs found on Holland's country roads and waterways.
The house is the kind of small "castle" that might have appealed to the imaginations of busy burghers in The Hague, although they would certainly have preferred something less rustic and isolated, like Constantijn Huygens's small country house, Hofwijck. The building here was called the Castle Van der Boos near Dordrecht when Michael Friedsam owned the painting, but any attempt to identify the structure is discouraged by a brief review of similar pictures by Van Goyen and of Late Medieval Dutch châteaux. The general form is plausible, but the proportions are peculiar, the adjoining façades are unexpected, the wooden addition to the second floor could not function in any but an artistic way (in part because of the chimney above it), and the tower is generic.
The proportions and structure of this design are entirely characteristic of Van Goyen in the mid- to late 1640s.
[2016; adapted from Liedtke 2007]