Aelbert Cuyp at the National Gallery

By Bruce, Donald | Contemporary Review, May 2002 | Go to article overview

Aelbert Cuyp at the National Gallery


Bruce, Donald, Contemporary Review


AFTER its trip to Pisanello's Italian duchies, the National Gallery has returned to the delta of the Rhine and, in its latest borrowed exhibition, settled on the Dordrecht of Aelbert Cuyp. Dordrecht stands sentinel on the confluence of the Rhine and the Maas as, groping through flat pastures to the North Sea, they loosely twine into a tangle of fields and channels. In the course of their vagaries the rivers have moulded the south of Holland into something like an archipelago, of which Dordrecht is almost an island. The Customs House and the blunt gullied bulk of the Grote Kirk, manifestations of commerce and Calvinism, dominated a town famous for its rigorous Dutch cleanliness. An English traveller of Cuyp's time noted that he could pass dryshod through its streets in midwinter.

Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691) never left his corner of Holland except to visit the hills and curly oakwoods on the German border dear to his contemporary, Jacob van Ruisdael. His province was littoral and watery: low damp but affluent grazing-land, where cattle slaked their innocent thirst from an estuary shared with peascod fishing-boats, some of the boats half-sunk in reeds, others bouncing seawards, their sails full of wind. In Cuyp's representation the tautness of their bent masts under canvas mimics the bulges of the cows' ribs through their slack hides. As the cattle paddle, ruminant and ruminating, sociably fussing with flank to flank, they occasionally raise prying muzzles to the horizon where, spectral in the mist and distance out at sea, boats swing to the wind. The full tide of the sea, thrusting up the rivers' mackerel-bellied glimmer, slaps under small planked jetties, to recede through drenched grass. On the banks are huts shared by herdsmen and fishers, whose nets are sometimes seen drying in the ne arby cowsheds (Drover and Cows by a River, London National Gallery; Cattle and Cottage near a River, Rotterdam Museum; Maidservant in a Cowshed, Dordrecht Museum).

Water seeps through the soil it has already truncated and bounded. Riverfowl and quadrupeds convene amiably around the flooded ruin of a castle, which rises from the water as an island of mellowly embrowned towers, their vegetated sandstone ruddy in the sun, although their vaults sink crumbling into the bed of a fortuitous moat (Ubbergen Castle, London National Gallery). Another such castle, its moat iced over, is circled by skaters, though dourer than those of Avercamp, and thronged with the customers of a beer-tent put up in the lee of a rampart (Scene on the Ice around the Merwedehuis, Private Collection).

Cuyp was a churchwardenly man: district magistrate, Elder of the Reformed Church, and trustee for a church hospital. As a patrician of Dordrecht and a patriot, he paid homage to Holland as a trim and handsome place where even the windmills rotated their sails with a Sunday sobriety; much as his contemporary Teniers depicted Flanders. Like Gainsborough, Cuyp worked in his studio from sketches made in the open air, so that a selective memory and imagination could intervene between what was observed and what was represented. Sometimes he conflated drawings of two different localities in one picture, as in his View of Utrecht (Residenzgalerie, Salzburg) in which he places a church from a crowded city-centre in open countryside. The oakwood in the series of pictures of Orpheus among animals is based on two of Cuyp's drawings in the British Museum. Since he never strayed from his quarter of Holland, he could not have visited the famous menagerie which the Emperor Rudolf II had established in Prague, so the exotic c reatures around Orpheus must be based on prints or drawings, perhaps by Roelandt Savery, although transfigured by Cuyp's fresh vision. Cuyp sometimes idealised the landscapes of his country. At one with Teniers who, across the River Maas, shared the same terrain, he loved neatness and shunned any land managed by slovenly farmers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Aelbert Cuyp at the National Gallery
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.