OfJan Van Goyenhis wide landscapes are characteristic, as in the one we see in this painting made around 1646 or for example in A windmill next to a river
This time it is a view from a distance of the city ofAmersfoort, in which his great church stands out. But although the population and the extremely flat Dutch landscape are two of the protagonists of the scene, there is much more. Since Van Goyen includes different elements with which he manages to humanize the landscape. One of these elements are the people who can be seen pulling to the left almost in the foreground. Just as there are two other peasants sitting on the ground at the other end of the frame.
View of Amersfoort by Van Goyen
Van Goyen was a true expert in making panoramic views of Dutch cities. In fact, those were the first recognized works of his around the 1630s. And he continued with that work for a long time, having some cities as authentic favorites of his canvases. For example, he paintedRhennenorNijmegenon numerous occasions, and even for a long time it was thought that this canvas could be one of those two cities. Though scholars have eventually identified it with Amersfoort, both because of the shape of the Church of Our Lady on it, and because of the narrow river to the left.
The truth is that this painter was gifted to theIt was time to make this type of urban views, which he was able to represent with authentic topographical criteria, although at the same time that did not prevent him from incorporating fanciful and imaginary elements that helped him to dynamize the scene.
That topographical value is due to the fact that we are dealing with a landscaper who worked a lot outdoors. Not only was his work based on in situ observation of nature, but he also took many notes on it and thus began some of his works, if the size and format allowed. For that reason, in many of his paintings when you analyze them you can see that under the colors there is a drawing made in charcoal, and sometimes that sketch is done using watercolor paints.
Although it is equally true that in many cases these notes taken in the open air were still previous studies, sometimes with great accuracy regarding the places represented. For example, there is a good topographical drawing that he made of Amersfoort, and that very possibly he used as a base for this canvas. And it is very interesting to see how in the final work he has managed to manipulate the terrain around the town to give it the desired effect.