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Philips Wouwerman

An Italianate Landscape with Bathers swimming in a River and a Party of Men unloading a Vessel

Philips Wouwerman

Indistinctly signed, lower left
On panel, 14 x 19 ins. (36.5 x 48.5 cm)



Joseph-Antoine Crozat, Baron de Tugny (1696-1740), Paris
Crozat collection sale, Paris, 15 June 1751
Where purchased by Charles Cressent (1685-1768), Paris,
for fr. 1,230
His sale, 15 February 1757, Paris, lot. 55 (i)
E. Secrétan, Paris
His sale, Christie’s, London, 13 July 1889, lot 10
Samuel Cunliffe-Lister, later 1st Lord Masham
By descent to Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Earl of Swinton (1884-1977)
On loan to the Swinton Conservation College
The Trustees of the Swinton Settled Estate, sale, Christie’s, London, 28 November 1975, lot 68
Private collection, Germany, 1975-2012


Jean Moyreau, Œvres de Philips Wouwerman, Hollandais, Gravées d’apres ses Meilleurs Tableaux qui sont dans les plus beaux cabinets de Paris et ailleurs, Paris, 1737-1762, no. 93
C. Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, Essingen & Paris, 1908, vol. 2, p. 581, no. 1003a
K. J. Müllenmeister, Meer und Land im Licht des 17. Jahrhunderts, Bremen, 1981, vol. 3, p. 107 (fig. 555)
Birgit Schumacher, Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668).  The Horse Painter of the Golden Age, 2 vol., Doornspijk, 2006, vol. 1, p. 356, no. A468; vol. 2, plate 438.


Pierre-Quentin Chedel (1705-1763) for Moyreau, with the tile “PORT”


Justly celebrated as the greatest Dutch painter of horses, Philips Wouwerman was also a gifted landscapist and figure painter.  As a result of his versatile skills he developed an exceptionally wide repertoire of subjects: in addition to the many scenes in which horses play a prominent role, such as battles, hunting scenes, stables, forges, riding schools and army encampments, he painted religious themes, landscapes, genre scenes, beach scenes and a few seascapes.  

In this charming panel, Wouwerman depicts a lively scene of everyday life, set on the banks of a small river.   The foreground is dominated by the activity surrounding a boat drawn up to the right bank.  The boat's crew takes a break, while a team of men is hard at work loading a horse-drawn cart with their wares: various bundles of goods and a rolled carpet are stacked to one side.  Further to the right, a trader is doing a deal.  Close to the shore, two boys take a swim in the shallows, while a traveller waters his horses and a small boy plays with his dog.   On the far bank, washer women are busy with their washing, working from a small boat secured to a post in the river.  Beyond are further scenes of workmen, loading and unloading vessels and pack-horses.   The ruined tower and a stone bridge, which appear in the middle distance, lend the picture an Italianate flavour: warm sunlight filtered through banks of billowing clouds permeates the scene.  

Establishing a chronology for Wouwerman's work is difficult because he dated only a relatively small number of his paintings.  Schumacher suggests a date in the mid-1660s for this picture, but there seems little reason to assign it to the artist's late oeuvre.  A date in the early to mid-1650s seems more likely, since the sunny, well-balanced colouring is characteristic of his work of that period.  By that date, his tonality had lightened and his palette had become more colourful, whilst still retaining some affinities with the tonal school of painting.   Here, the harmonious scheme of grey, beige and brown is lifted by the accents of blue and red in the figures' clothing and the bright blue of the sky.   Also typical of Wouwerman's early maturity are the anecdotal genre figures and unpretentious subject matter, both of which recall the work of the painter Pieter van Laer (1599-1642 or after).   Van Laer, a native of Haarlem, had spent some ten years in Rome, before returning home in 1638.  His depictions of everyday life on the streets of Rome and in the surrounding campagna, a genre which he invented, became the dominant influence on Wouwerman's early stylistic development.  Here, the motif of the swimming boys is probably derived from van Laer's Landscape with Bathers, in Bremen (ii), which dates from around 1639-1642.  From 1649 onwards, bathing scenes occur frequently in the landscapes of Wouwerman.  

Wouwerman enjoyed a successful career and died a rich man.   His work continued to be highly esteemed long after his death.  Indeed, writing in the eighteenth century, Houbraken remarked that 'his paintings fetched a far higher price after his death than in his lifetime (iii).   Especially in eighteenth-century France, his elegant, decorative style appealed to the cultivated tastes of aristocratic collectors and many of his best works entered the great French collections of the day.  This is true of the present work, which by the eighteenth century belonged to Joseph-Antoine Crozat, Baron and later Marquis de Tugny (1696-1740), a member of the well-known French family of financiers and art collectors.   During his life, de Tugny put together a fabulous collection of paintings, statues, drawings and prints, as well as a library of books on the fine arts.  Following his death, at the sale of his collection in 1751, this painting was bought by the celebrated furniture-maker and sculptor Charles Cressent (1685-1768). 


The eldest son of the painter Pauwels Joostsz. Wouwerman, Philips was baptised in Haarlem on 24 May 1619.  His younger brothers, Pieter and Johannes, also became artists and painted in the style of Philips.  Wouwerman probably took his first instruction in painting from his father.  According to Cornelis de Bie, he subsequently became a pupil of Frans Hals, but there is no trace of Hals's influence in his work.   In 1638, against the wishes of his family, Wouwerman travelled to Hamburg to marry a Catholic girl named Annetje Pietersdr. van Broeckhof.  While in Hamburg, he worked briefly in the studio of the German history painter, Evert Decker.  By 1640, he had returned to Haarlem where he joined the guild.  In 1646 he served as a member of the guild's executive committee (as vinder or agent).  He seems to have remained in Haarlem for the rest of his life.  He died on 19 May 1668 and was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem.  His wife survived him by less than two years and was interred in St. Bavoís Church on 24 January 1670.

Though he lived to be only forty-eight years old, Wouwerman was one of the most successful and prolific artists of the Dutch Golden Age and around a thousand works bear his name.  He occasionally painted staffage in the landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan Wijnants and Cornelis Decker.  He had numerous pupils and followers and died a wealthy man, leaving a substantial inheritance to his three sons and four daughters.


i  See: M.-J. Ballot, “Charles Cressent, sculpteur, ébénist, collectionneur”, Archives de l’art Français, ser. 4,
  vol. 10 (entire issue, 1919), p. 20.  “La composition de ce tableau est suprenant en beauté”.
ii  Pieter van Laer, Landscape with Bathers, signed PVLaer, on panel, 55 x 83 cm, Bremen, Kunsthalle,
  Inv. no. 69-1856.  
iii  A. Houbraken, De groote schouburgh, 1718-21, vol. ii, p. 71.

Philips Wouwerman

1619 - Haarlem - 1668

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