Aert van der Neer
Fire in a village at night, 1600s
Oil on panel, 32 x 45 cm.
Inventory number: 0198NMK
Acquired with funding from the wills of Director Per Vilhelm & Mygge Kolbing-Nielsen with grant from Lizzie and Ejler Ruge’s Art Foundation, 2004
A major fire has broken out in a small Dutch village. The billowing smoke from the fire covers most of the night sky, while the devouring flames are reflected in the river. Unlike the artist’s other night-time paintings, it is not the light of the moon, but instead the flames of the fire that illuminate the surrounding landscape with a reddish-Brown sheen. Nocturnal scenes became a popular subject in the Netherlands in the 1640s and often formed a poetic and atmospheric framework for architectural, religious and landscape paintings. Most of the ones painted during the Dutch Golden Age are from the area around Haarlem and Amsterdam, which is also where Aert van der Neer and his teacher Rafaël Govertsz Camphuysen each completed an extensive series of landscapes bathed in moonlight.
Aert van der Neer (1603-1677)
Aert van der Neer was born into a family of painters. He specialised in landscapes, where night scenes with backlighting came to characterise his work. He has since become known for his ability to subtly nuance light and shadow, thereby creating a unique impression of atmosphere that is equally characteristic of his landscapes. Van der Neer was part of a movement within Dutch landscape painting that had been in rapid development since the 1620s. Central to the subjects was the focus on the local, Dutch landscape.