In Allart van Everdingen, 1621-1675. First Painter of Scandinavian Landscape, Alice I. Davies has produced another important monograph. She, in collaboration with Frederic J. Duparc, has also generated a catalogue raisonné of Everdingen’s paintings. Few have found their way to public collections in North America – three to be precise unless one wishes to add the picture in Ponce. Thus Allart van Everdingen is far better known here through his prints and drawings.
Davies divides her text into eight chapters. Six of these focus on the artist and his activities as a painter. Chapter seven provides an overview of the literature interpreting Everdingen’s contribution to the Golden Age of Dutch painting whereas her last chapter discusses Everdingen’s imitators and followers up to the mid nineteenth century. Chapter two provides an overview of the artist’s activity as a painter. Chapters three through six cover Everdingen’s career respectively as a marine painter, the leading practitioner of Scandinavian landscapes (dealt with in two chapters first encompassing his years in Haarlem and subsequently in Amsterdam) and in terms of his modest output of landscape subjects representing his native land.
Davies posits that Allart van Everdingen should be considered a marine painter of ranking importance. The fact that his earliest works tend to be marines would seem to indicate that he seriously considered specializing in this subject. Yet the majority of his true marines suggest to me that he responded to a number of influences in an attempt to forge his own distinctive style. These influences range beyond that of Jan Porcellis and, to a lesser degree, Simon de Vlieger. Certain pictures, for example, cat. 3, seem to show Everdingen’s interest in Pieter Mulier the Elder. Cat. 1 could even be associated with the Leiden painter, Johanes Stooter and Willem van Diest of The Hague. Following this formative period Everdingen produced a handful of marines representing rough seas set below dramatic, cloudy skies (cat. nos. 8-12, 14). The last of these, Stormy View of Vlissingen, now in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, is partly topographical in tenor. Other pictures here classified as marines such as the artist’s well-known View of Haarlem from the Noorder Spaarne (cat. 15), not to mention his views of Gorinchem (cat. 21) and Alkmaar (cat. 22), are even more demonstrably city views. These last two pictures are especially notable for the stunning effect of the vaulting clouds. One might argue that in terms of sweeping panoramic effects, Allart van Everdingen gives Jacob van Ruisdael a run for his money. Despite their maritime flavor these city profiles belong as much to the painter’s Dutch subjects and would probably be considered by many to be Everdingen’s most distinguished contribution to this part of his repertory.
Chapters four and five focus on the heart of Everdingen’s importance as a landscape painter – his Scandinavian views (the artist visited Scandinavia in 1644). The author understandably concentrates on his earlier Haarlem output during the second half of the 1640s when Everdingen produced his most innovative views. Many of these are on panel and most are dated. Their novelty is underscored by the subdued, relatively monochrome palette, and their palpably atmospheric, almost brooding cloudy skies. The artist also envisages the landscape as remote, elemental, and truly awesome in its rugged splendor. All this was a far cry from the cultivated flat countryside of Holland and its visual impact must have been impressive. These are the pictures that established Everdingen’s reputation as a painter of Scandinavian-inspired landscape themes, yet with the exception of cat. 34 of 1648 and cat. 41 of 1650 it was not this corpus that was to have such an indelible impact on the young Jacob van Ruisdael. Partly because of this paradox and despite Davies’s close reading of these pictures from the later 1640s it is worth assessing this corpus more closely to gauge significant variations on themes that would, in the end, be so important to Ruisdael. Mountain Landscape with Waterfall (cat. 39) of 1650, now in Jerusalem, while certainly not the first of these rocky landscapes to contain a waterfall, is important because it may be the first instance in which the waterfall is set well into the mid-distance of a rugged panorama. Moreover, the viewer actually looks down at the waterfall rather than being set more at eye level with it. Despite the complex overlapping of space from foreground to far distance, there is a real striving for spatial flow which supercedes the emphatic partitioning of space, so evident in many of Everdingen’s landscapes of the 1640s. In Mountain Scenery, with Two Horsemen in the Foreground (cat. 51), now in Copenhagen, this unified flow of an admittedly still complex space has become more complete.
Mountainous Landscape with Travelers (cat. 49), also from about 1650, although very different from the two pictures just cited, is remarkable because of the dramatic counterpoint between the massive rocks and the subtly characterized clouds. Here the artist effectively and daringly exploits the vertical format. His more typical uprights including Scandinavian Waterfall with a Water Mill (cat. 41) of 1650 in Munich provided Ruisdael with much of the syntax that he would incorporate into his repertory. But Mountainous Landscape with Travelers (cat. 49) offered something more – the wonderful, ever renewing interplay between vaulting clouds and the landscape below that energizes Ruisdael’s best works, including his waterfalls.
The fact that the vast majority of Everdingen’s paintings are found in public collections throughout northern Europe, attests to the sustained interest this artist held for past collectors. His appeal to generations of landscape artists is also charted by Davies. Nonetheless, for specialists in seventeenth-century Dutch art the most pressing question is the nature of Jacob van Ruisdael’s relationship to Allart van Everdingen’s Scandinavian subjects. To my mind, this most significant correspondence remains largely unaddressed in Davies’s book. Her references to the previously stated opinions of Rosenberg, Stechow, Slive, and Walford reinforce the traditional notion that Ruisdael assimilated the syntax of Everdingen to make it his own. While prepared to subscribe to this notion of genius absorbing and transforming the concept of a less gifted predecessor, it is worth focusing on the actual differences between the two artists’ rendering of similar subject matter. Realizing that exceptions will exist when positing broad generalizations, it is evident that in the vast majority of Everdingen’s painted images of waterfalls the water flows at right angles to the viewer and parallel to the picture plane. Or in other instances it falls sufficiently below the viewer’s implied secure position as not to pose any threat or inconvenience. By contrast Ruisdael often depicts the water rushing seemingly directly at the viewer leaving the foreground largely empty of stabilizing props. Ruisdael’s employment of the upright format seems to enhance the velocity of the water’s flow (see Davies figs. 194, 198, 202, 204).
Ruisdael creates a mise-en-scène that invites a critically different psychological response from the beholder. The viewer is caught at the vortex of an unfolding drama and is held in thrall by the display of nature’s energy. Whereas this energy is more often deflected in Everdingen’s compositions, Ruisdael deploys it to very different purpose in his Scandinavian subjects. Through his powerful imagination Ruisdael also depicts waterfalls and flowing streams in worlds far removed from Scandinavia. In pictures such as examples in Indianapolis, Philadelphia and the Wallace Collection in London (Slive, 2002 – reviewed in this issue – cat. nos. 205, 25, 218 ), Ruisdael depicts waterfalls in gentle, hilly panoramas. He also depicts modest waterfalls or rapids below still pools nestled in intimate corners of essentially flat, wooded countryside (for example paintings in Detroit and Florence – Slive, 2002, cat. nos. 179, 188). These, plus many other variants, indicate the degree to which Ruisdael’s Scandinavian subjects are, in fact, part of a wider set of interests. In these pictures Ruisdael creates an inexhaustibly rich repertory. Set against this, Everdingen’s rendering of Scandinavian views can seem somewhat unrelentingly similar.
In conclusion I cite the following comments concerning the catalogue.
Cat. 83ó: Although Allart van Everdingen never seems to have responded to Jacob van Ruisdael’s depictions of water mills, in this instance he provides a novel view of the mill run seen en face from below. This unusual vantage point finds a significant counterpart in cat. A8 that has almost identical dimensions to cat. 83. Their similarity might argue for the idea that they were once companion paintings.
Cat. 20: I have always had the feeling that this picture is a fragment. The abrupt truncation of the boats at the left might support this contention. If the Cleveland picture was once larger, then it is highly unlikely that it could have been the pendant to cat. 19. Kenneth Bé, paintings conservator at the Cleveland Museum of Art, kindly communicated to me verbally that, although the top and bottom edges are essentially original, the painting shows no cusping at the right, indicating that it has been cut.
Cat. 13: To judge from the photograph this would appear to be a copy of cat. 12.
Cat: R16. This picture might prove to be by Abraham van Kalraet. His signed landscape in Detroit is similar and, like R 16 is dependent on the Rhenish landscapes of Herman Saftleven.
Recently, one of Everdingen’s most outstanding pictures, An Extensive Wooded Landscape, has resurfaced and was on view with John Mitchell and Son at TEFAF in Maastricht. This canvas, which measures 74.5 x 86.5 cm., bears the artistÕs signature at the lower right. Although not cited by Davies, she recently saw the painting and attests to its great quality and importance.
Concerning fig. 76, the author (pp. 90-91) cites that Carlos van Hasselt argued for the influence of Abraham Bloemaert. The same may be said for fig. 141, Scandinavian Landscape, a drawing now in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. This suggests that Everdingen, in his characterization of rustic dwellings and foreground vegetation, may have been influenced by Bloemaert to a considerably greater degree than hitherto realized.
This monograph is a labor of love, and represents years of research and re-evaluation of one of the significant practitioners of landscape painting in the Dutch Republic during the seventeenth century. Davies provides an insightful assessment of Allart van Everdingen’s contribution as well as an invaluable, exhaustively researched catalogue raisonné (in partnership with Frits Duparc) of Everdingen’s paintings. This monograph will serve as the standard publication on Everdingen for years to come and is a lasting monument to the author’s sustained dedication to the world of Dutch landscape centered on Jacob van Ruisdael and those with whom he was indelibly associated.
Detroit Institute of Arts