Jan Dirksz Both (1610 Utrecht – Aug 9, 1652 ebenda) was a Dutch painter, draughtsman, and etcher, who made an important contribution to the development of Dutch Italianate landscape painting.
He was one of the most influential representatives of the so-called “Dutch Italianates”, who mainly traveled to Rome in the course of the 17th century, where they received the testimonies of classical antiquity Also to study the works of the great masters Tizian, Raphael or Michelangelo. The magic of the ancient ruins in the hilly, sun-drenched landscape with the lush, strange vegetation exerted a special charm on them. Above all, the warm, golden light of the southern metropolis, so contrasting with the rather gray light of the home, fascinated the young northern countries.
He refined further his expansive, imaginary landscapes drenched with a Mediterranean golden light. In Landscape with Bandits Leading Prisoners (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) the sandy road makes a sweeping diagonal from the left. Touches of realism in the down-to-earth figures and detailed vegetation of the foreground contrast with the idyllic golden distance. Occasionally Both peoples his landscapes with religious or mythological figures as in Judgement of Paris (London, National Gallery) where the figures were painted by a fellow Utrecht artist, Cornelis van Poelenburch.
Even during Jan ‘s first study of painting between 1634 and 1637, probably by Gerrit van Honthorst or Abraham Bloemaert, his early development became a landscape painter, probably also under the influence of Carel de Hooch († 1638), whose realistic landscapes were an important alternative The more traditional representations of Cornelis van Poelenburch or Bartholomeus Breenbergh, and certainly made a lasting impression on the young, aspiring artist.
Together with his brother Andries, also a painter, but rather of peasant scenes similar to Adriaen Brouwers, Jan left the homeland and stayed in Rome from 1637/38 to 1641. He soon became a member of the so-called “Bamboccianti” (co-worker and successor from the Pieter van Laers circle, called il Bamboccio), worked closely with Claude Lorrain on two series of large-format landscape scenes (today Madrid, Prado) Van Swanevelt. From them Jan took over the arrangement of his landscapes in diagonal lines in order to achieve a greater depth of space, and arranged his compositions with the help of the glowing golden light, which became so characteristic of his entire later oeuvre, together with a naturalistic mode of representation of the details , Who clearly distinguished his paintings from those of his fellow painters.
In 1641, Jan and Andries left Rome to return to Utrecht. However, Andries died with a misfortune during an interlude in Venice. Back in Utrecht, Jan Both relies on the realistic portrayal of “Italianized” landscapes, largely based on his Roman studies and drawings. At the same time, Jan did not populate his scenes with mythological figures, as is usually customary, but with real figures such as hikers, shepherds or horsemen.
Throughout his short but significant career, Jan Both has also worked with other artists. In addition to the already mentioned Claude Lorrain, these were mainly Cornelis van Poelenburch, Jan Baptist Weenix, Pieter Saenredam and Nicholas Knüpfer. The choice of his subjects and the exemplary manner of the composition of Jan Both were admired by many contemporaries and were a main source of inspiration for the third generation of the Dutch “Italians”, among them Willem de Heusch or Frederik de Moucheron. His drawing style was often copied, especially by his student Jan Hackaert. Even those painters who could not travel (or wanted to go to the South) often influenced Jan Both’s art in a lasting way. The most famous is his influence on Aelbert Cuyp, who probably met Jan Both in person on his first great journey to Holland in 1642 in Utrecht. After this journey, Aelbert Cuyp’s mode of representation of the light clearly changed from a rather muted, gray-tending atmosphere to a scene dipped in southern golden light in stronger colors. With this unique symbiosis of a thoroughly Dutch landscape in a Mediterranean light, Cuyp created a whole new, long-time appreciated and often copied type of landscape painting. Jan Both’s ‘Italian’ landscapes were also very much admired and popular in the art scene until the middle of the 19th century. In the course of the return to the original, true-to-nature depiction of the Dutch landscape during the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century, however, they no longer attracted attention. It was only in the 1960s that Jan Both and his importance for the Dutch landscape painting were rediscovered, among other things, by a study by M. R. Waddinghams.
Pictures from the period of Rome:
Festivity in front of the Spanish Embassy in Rome. Circa 1637. Stockholm, art collection.
Market on the Campo Vaccino after 1637. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Morra players below the Campidoglio. After 1637. Alte Pinakothek, Munich.
Pictures after their return to the Netherlands:
Landscape with travelers. 1640/41. Mauritshuis, The Hague.
Forest landscape with river. After 1640. National Gallery, London.
Rock landscape with shepherds and mules after 1640. National Gallery, London.
Landscape with a draftsman. About 1650. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
Works in collaboration with other painters:
With Nicholas Knüpfer and Jan Baptist Weenix:
Landscape with Mercury and Argos. About 1650-51. Old Pinakothek, Munich.
The Seven Works of Mercy. Ca. 1651. Kassel, State Art Collections Schloss Wilhelmshöhe.
With Cornelis van Poelenburch:
Landscape with the judgment of Paris. Ca. 1651. National Gallery London.