Country House near the Water

Jan van Goyen (Dutch, Leiden 1596–1656 The Hague)
Oil on wood
14 3/8 x 13 in. (36.5 x 33 cm)
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
Not on view
The building is an imaginary "hunting castle", the kind of picturesque retreat that appealed to busy urbanites. Van Goyen painted several similar pictures during the 1640s.

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 and 64.65.1). 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]
Inscription: Signed and dated (on boat): VG 1646
?Leopold II, King of Belgium; [Kleinberger, Paris and New York; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (by 1917–d. 1931)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscape Paintings," May 14–September 30, 1934, no. 18.

San Francisco. Palace of Fine Arts. "Golden Gate International Exposition," May 25–September 29, 1940, no. 187.

Dayton Art Institute. "The City by the River and the Sea: Five Centuries of Skylines," April 18–June 3, 1951, no. 28 (as "Chateau Van der Bos near Dordrecht").

Hempstead, N. Y. Hofstra College. "Metropolitan Museum Masterpieces," June 26–September 1, 1952, no. 16.

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. June 15–July 31, 1955, no. ?

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.

Guy Pène du Bois. "Famous American Collections: The Collection of Mr. Michael Friedsam." Arts and Decoration 7 (June 1917), p. 402.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 20, as a good example from the artist's later period.

"Friedsam Bequest to be Exhibited Next November." Art News 30 (January 2, 1932), p. 13, prints Bryson Burroughs's survey of the Friedsam paintings.

Hans-Ulrich Beck. Jan van Goyen, 1596–1656. Vol. 2, Katalog der Gemälde. Amsterdam, 1973, p. 88, no. 179.

Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, ed. Wadsworth Atheneum Paintings. Catalogue 1, The Netherlands and the German-speaking Countries: Fifteenth–Nineteenth Centuries. Hartford, 1978, p. 146, under no. 60, compares it to Van Goyen's "Dutch River Scene" (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford) of 1645.

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. 162, no. 179, ill.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 236–37, no. 52, colorpl. 52.