Gallery Edel, Cologne, 1989
From whom acquired by the previous owner
Private collection, Canada, until 2023
Anon. sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 27 January 2023, lot 515
Information regarding the life of the landscape painter Dionijs Verburgh is sparse. Apart from a trip to Suriname, a Dutch colony on the northern coast of South America, in 1703, he seems to have lived and worked in Rotterdam all his life. The son of a cloth merchant, he inherited a number of properties in the city. He was survived by two sons from his twelve children, both of whom followed in their father’s footsteps becoming painters.
Verburgh found his inspiration mostly in the Dutch countryside. Typically, he painted views of rivers and woodlands, but he also made something of a speciality of panoramic views of the Rhineland, influenced by the slightly older Rotterdam painters Gerrit Battem (c. 1636 – 1684) and Claesz Jans van der Willigen (c. 1630-1676). Although most of his scenes are imaginary, he also painted a few views containing recognisable city profiles.
This present painting is a characteristic of Verburgh’s Dutch landscapes. The view depicted is of a flat river plain on a blustery day. Overhead banks of dark clouds announce an approaching storm. Slanting rays of sunlight break through the clouds, illuminating the scene. A rutted sandy track curves away from the left foreground, crossing the rushing river by means of a small stone bridge. The trees, in full summer foliage, bend under the force of the wind. A few hardy souls have braved the weather: a man standing atop the bridge, another leaning forward into the teeth of the gale, and a horseback rider hastening home with his dog. The spire of a local churches rises in the middle distance, and the outlines of a sizeable city, possibly Rotterdam, appear in the left background. The attractive silvery palette and sketchy technique are hallmarks of Verburgh’s style.
Dionijs was the eldest son of Ruth Jansz. Verburgh, a woollen-cloth merchant, and his wife Maria Tielemans, both from Weert, who were married in Rotterdam in 1636. In their will of 22 November 1659, Dionijs is mentioned as being their eldest son, aged 23: thus, he must have been born in 1636 or 1637. In 1677, Dionijs was married in Rotterdam to Anna Maria Olaus (Orlaus) from Leeuwarden. The couple had twelve children, who were all baptised as Roman Catholics. Verburgh owned a number of houses on Kipstraat, which he had inherited from his father. In 1689, according to a purchase deed, he lived ‘behind the burnt monastery’, (the Dominican convent, destroyed by fire in 1563), in the eastern part of the city. In 1703, the artist travelled to Suriname, in South America.
Only two of Verburgh’s sons survived to adulthood, both of whom became painters: Rutger, who was born in Rotterdam in 1678, and married Cornelia van der Poel in 1710. When he died in 1727, he was living on the Goudse Singel, near the gate. Unlike his father, he painted winter landscapes and genre scenes. His brother Jan, born in Rotterdam in 1689, was living in Middelburg at the time of his father’s death in 1722. Dionijs was buried in Rotterdam on 25 June 1722.