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Contrasting Landscapes

Sportsmen in the Dunes©

The Dutch Republic contained two dramatically contrasting types of terrain: the rich plains and the barren dunes. The former contained cities, navigable waterways, fertile polders and country houses (nos 9, 15, 17 and 18). The dunes, by contrast, were inhospitable, largely untouched by man and without apparent ownership. In art they act as home to menacing army encampments (nos 3 and 4) or as picturesque hunting ground, with winding paths, contorted trees and run-down inns (nos 10, 12 and 13). The beach (no. 14), reached by crossing the line of dunes running up the Dutch coast, was a place of fashionable resort.

Jan van der Heyden was actively committed to improving his surroundings. He designed a system of street lighting in Amsterdam and invented the fire engine. This desire for betterment is reflected in his paintings which idealise both town (no. 17) and country life (no. 18).

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