Odon (d. 1784), Amsterdam, until 1784
Sale of his collection, P. van der Schley et al. , Amsterdam, 6 September 1784, lot 137/8
Private collection Theodor Gerhard Lürmann (1789-1865), Bremen, from 1850
By descent to his son, Johann Theodor Lürmann (1816-1889), by whom given to his grandson
Heinrich Theodor Lürmann, in 1877
Private collection, Germany, 1954-2021
J. K. van der Haagen, De Schilders van der Haagen en hun werk, Voorburg, 1932, p. 222, no. 220.
On the back of the frame there is the seal of the Lürmann family and a label inscribed by Johann Theodor Lürmann in 1877: "To my dear godfather (?) and grandson Heinrich Theodor Lürmann on January 15, 1877 with the heartfelt wish that one day he might look at this picture with the same joy that it gave his great-grandfather, grandfather and father. Joh. Lurmann".
A majestic oak dominates the left foreground of a wooded landscape. Passing before it and receding into the middle distance is a sandy track along which move a small flock of sheep and a donkey: some of the animals stop to rest or graze on clumps of vegetation. Further back, an expanse of placid water stretches away to the right, flanked by stands of stately trees. A lone church sits atop a distant hill. The unobtrusive figure of a fisherman sitting at the water’s edge provides the only human presence in this tranquil scene. The still, reflective water and gentle, glowing sky convey a sense of great calm. Typical of van der Haagen are the lyrical effects of sunlight and shadow and the palette of muted greens, yellow, salmon pink and brown.
The painter and draughtsman Joris van der Haagen specialised in depictions of thickly wooded countryside, panoramas, and topographically accurate landscape and city views. He resided for most of his working life in The Hague, though he travelled widely to gather material for his graphic and painted work. Judging from the evidence of his drawings, many of which bear autograph annotations identifying the site, his expeditions took him to numerous locations in The Netherlands, including sites in and around Arnhem, Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Rosendaal, Ilpendam, Delft, The Hague, Wassenaar, Overveen, Maastricht, Rhenen and Overshie. He also drew and painted identifiable places near Brussels and Kleve. One of his favourite subjects was the Haagse Bos, a wooded area near to the centre of The Hague, where he often went to sketch. In all, about thirty paintings and drawings of the forest have survived, dating between 1652 and the year of his death. He sometimes collaborated with figure and animal painters, among them Dirck Wyntrack (1615-1618), Paulus Potter (1625-1654), Ludolf de Jongh (1616-1679) and Nicolaes Berchem (1620-1683).
Wooded landscapes were among van der Haagen’s favourite subjects. This attractive canvas is an entirely characteristic example of the genre. As we see here, his compositions, which are often somewhat square in format, frequently feature prominent trees in the left or right foreground, which are viewed from a low viewpoint, producing a monumental effect. The strong vertical element is usually counterbalanced by open, sunlit vistas and broad expanses of still water, interspersed with smaller stands of trees. Van der Haagen’s use of expressive trees owes an obvious debt to Jacob van Ruisdael (1628-1682), however, in his hands they achieve a very different effect. Whereas Ruisdael regularly deployed large, gnarled trees in his landscapes to evoke drama, van der Haagen’s tall, stately trees, coupled with a crepuscular light, convey a romantic mood. He was especially adept at capturing the effect of evening sunlight striking the lacy foliage of trees and other vegetation.
Despite the naturalistic rendering of the scenery in this painting, it probably does not represent a geographically specific location. However, the artist doubtless drew upon motifs taken from his stock of drawings made on the spot when working up his composition in his studio. His sensitively rendered studies of trees, for example those made in the woods near The Hague, are likely sources for such motifs. Since van der Haagen rarely dated his paintings, it is difficult to propose an exact date for this work. However, in view of the influence of Ruisdael’s work from the mature phase of his career, a date between 1655-1665 seems plausible.
A hand-written label affixed to the back of the stretcher indicates that this painting passed through four generations of the Lürmann family before surfacing recently on the market. The painting was acquired sometime in the mid-nineteenth century by the Bremen businessman Theodor Gerhard Lürmann, who made a sizeable collection of seventeenth-century Dutch masters and contemporary German paintings. In 1853, he had the architect Lüder Rutenberg design and build a picture gallery extension to his property at No. 22 Contrescarpe, Bremen, in which to house his collection.
The son of the painter Abraham van der Haagen (1587-1639) and Sophia Ottendr. van der Laen, Joris van der Haagen was born between 1613 and 1617, probably in Arnhem, or possibly Dordrecht. The name of his teacher is not recorded, but it is assumed that he studied with his father as was customary for the sons of painters. After the death of his father in 1639, he moved with his mother to The Hague, where he built a house on the Amsterdamse Veerkade. Many other artists lived in the neighbourhood, including Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Paulus Potter and Pieter Post (1608-1669). On 6 July 1642, he married Magdalena Thijmansdr. De Heer, the widow of Lodewijck Hasepoot. On 30 January 1643, he became a member of the local Guild of St Luke and in 1644 a citizen of The Hague. Van der Haagen played a prominent role in the artistic community in the city, serving as deacon of the guild in 1651 and as headman (hoofdman) in 1653. He was a founding member of the Confrérie Pictura, an organisation established in 1656 in The Hague by a group of painters, glass-painters, sculptors and engravers who wished to secede from the guild. Documents record that van der Haagen was in Amsterdam in 1650 and 1657, but it is unlikely that he ever lived there. Around 1658, documents indicate that van de Haagen experienced financial difficulties. Probably in order to prevent his creditors seizing the artist’s house, his mother left most of her assets to her grandchildren in her will. Van der Haagen died in his house on the Amsterdamse Veerkade on 20 May 1669. His widow organised a sale of the contents of his studio on 18 September that year. However, she evidently kept a number of works for herself because at her death in 1676, the inventory of her estate shows that she owned twenty-eight landscapes by her late husband as well as a chest of ninety drawings.
Two of van der Haagen’s sons, Cornelis van der Haagen (1651-c. 1689) and Jacobus van der Haagen (1657-1715), also became painters.