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first quarter of the 18th century
Material and technique
oil on canvas
40 x 80 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
Van Bloemen depicts a pleasant valley in Latium through which a river slowly winds, its banks lined with rocky outcrops and windswept trees. In the background, two villages and a mountain range are visible, their grey-blue tint contrasting with the warm tones of the sky. In the foreground, at the centre of the canvas, the scene is enlivened by a small waterfall. Tiny figures animate this imaginary landscape; three people rest beside the waterfall, talking with two men opposite, another person is busy lighting a fire, and in the distance a shepherd tends his flock.
The painting probably dates from the artist’s youth, as the luminous tones suggest. The influence of the famous landscape artist Gaspard Dughet is evident, and in fact the work recalls an interesting tempera painting still on display at the Galleria Colonna in Rome. Van Bloemen greatly admired these tempera paintings for their freshness, perhaps even above Dughet’s oils. The prototype has been altered slightly, however, to soften the natural elements, evident from the leafier trees and the rounder mountains filling the background. The work is an important example of the artist’s long and productive period in Italy.
River Landscape with Figures
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