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Gerrit van Battem (c. 1636-84)

A landscape with travellers c.1670

Watercolour and bodycolour | 27.9 x 41.2 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 913021

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  • A bodycolour drawing of a rugged landscape, with a man and his wife, with a retinue of servants and animals travelling along a track to the left. There is a wooden bridge over the river on the right, and a town on a hill above. On the verso, a village with a church beside a river crossed by a bridge.

    Gerrit van Battem specialised in imaginary landscapes executed in watercolour and bodycolour, intended to be framed and hung. This type of landscape was one of his favourite compositions, and several variants exist, depicting the journey of a man and wife with their retinue of servants and animals through a romantically rugged landscape. Such scenes were popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, often ostensibly depicting the journeys of the Old Testament patriarchs (a specialism of Castiglione), though no specific subject is apparent here.

    Around sixty drawings have been identified in the Royal Collection that were included in the auction of Abraham van Broyel’s collection, held in Amsterdam in 1759. These were among over a hundred Dutch and Flemish drawings acquired at the sale by the art dealer Pieter Yver, who, if not acting directly for the Prince of Wales (later George III), presumably sold the group of sixty to the Prince (or King) shortly thereafter. This gouache was one of a pair by van Battem that brought the large sum of 132 guilders each, described as ‘a rare and agreeable landscape with a waterfall and additional fine figures, drawn with watercolours. The same, Winter, being a view of a town with a castle, with many figures, with watercolour and of the same size, 11 x 16 [Dutch] inches’; the other gouache of the pair is also to be found in the Royal Collection. Together with three other gouaches by the artist, and thirty watercolours and gouaches by other Dutch and Flemish artists, these hung in Buckingham Palace until 1950, presumably since their acquisition in the eighteenth century.

    Signed lower left: Battem

    Text adapted from Holbein to Hockney: Drawings from the Royal Collection
    Provenance

    Abraham van Broyel sale, Amsterdam, 30 October 1759, lot D177 (attributed to Gerrit Battem), 'Een ongemeen en aangenaam Landschap met een waterval en extra fraaije stoffasie, met waterverf geteekend, hoog 11, breed 16 duim'; purchased by Pieter Yver (fl.132); probably in the Royal Collection since c.1810; transferred from Buckingham Palace in 1949 (V.R. Inv. no.990)

  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour and bodycolour

    Measurements

    27.9 x 41.2 cm (sheet of paper)