Dune Landscape with Cottage and Figures

Jan Josefsz Van Goyen

Paisaje de dunas con cabaña y figuras

Goyen, Jan Josefsz Van

Leiden, 1596 - La Haya, 1656

Dune Landscape with Cottage and Figures, 1629

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Oil on panel

48 x 70,5 cm


Artwork history

  • Lord Belper, Nottingham, Kinston Hall

  • Sotheby´s sale Lord Belper collection, lot 98, London, May 23rd, 1951.

  • Bernard

  • M. B. Asscher, London, 1951.

  • Sra. Shannon Munn

  • Leonard Koetser, London, 1961.

  •  Private Collection

  • Sotheby’s sale, lot 42, New York, December 7th, 1994.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.


Exhibition, London, Leonard Koetser Gallery, nº 6.


Aspectos de la tradición paisajística en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Málaga, Salas de Exposiciones del Palacio Episcopal, nº 1, p. 28.

1999 - 2000

Naturalezas pintadas de Brueghel a Van Gogh. Pintura naturalista en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 5, p. 48


De Van Goyen a Constable. Aspectos da tradición do pintoresco na Colección Carmen Thyssen- Bornemisza, La Coruña, Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña, n. 1, p. 36


De Van Dyck a Goya. Maestros Antiguos de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Castellón, Museo de Bellas Artes, n. 26, p. 104

  • Beck, Hans-Ulrich: Jan van Goyen, 1596-1656: ein oeuvreverzeichnis. Amsterdam, Van Gendt, 1972-1987, vol. 2 (1973), nº 1080, pp. 478-479, illus.

  • Aspectos de la Tradición Paisajística en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). [Exhib. cat. Málaga, Salas de Exposiciones del Palacio Episcopal]. Málaga, Fundación Unicaja, 1999, nº 1, p. 28. [Sheet by Peter C. Sutton].

  • Colección Carmen Thyssen-BornemiszaArnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, p. 92, illus. p. 93 [ Sheet by Peter C. Sutton].

  • Borobia, Mar y Alarcó, Paloma (eds.): Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Obras escogidas. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2011, p. 100, illus. p. 101.

Expert report

Jan van Goyen was one of the pioneers of “tonal” painting, which brought a new colouristic and atmospheric unity to landscape and thereby achieved a new standard of naturalism. Born in Leiden and trained by, among others, Esaias van de Velde (c. 1590-1630), Van Goyen is reported to have travelled to France in his youth but spent most of life in his native country save for excursions documented in his drawings to the Southern Netherlands, Westphalia, and Cleves. His first manner employed the colourful and additive approach to composition favoured by his teacher, Van de Velde, but he began to explore greater unification of space in his drawings from the early 1620s and made his most significant breakthroughs in “tonal” landscape painting in his hometown in 1625-1627. Van Goyen was preceded in these experiments by his acquaintance, the seascapist Jan Porcellis (c. 1584-1632), and two very capable but lesser-known landscape painters, Pieter van Santvoort (1604/05-1635) and Pieter de Molijn (1595-1661). However the two artists who first truly codified the “tonal” style were Jan van Goyen and Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/03-1670), painting simple scenes of dunes, rivers and canals with a restrained palette of browns, tans and greens and a heightened appreciation of atmospheric effects. Between 1626 and 1629, Van Goyen systematically reduced the number of motifs in his designs, increasingly employed diagonal compositions, and sought an unifying colour scheme of earth colours and effects of moist air.

The present painting is a characteristic example of the master’s mature “tonal” manner. With its depiction of a crude rural cottage covered with thatch in a loamy landscape dappled with shadow, apportioned by a few tumbledown fences and peopled by clots of desultory peasants, it is typical of this unpretentious art. Like Molijn before him, Van Goyen employs a powerful band of shadow in the immediate foreground to throw the lighted cottage and trees in the middle ground in sharp spatial relief. Note particularly his interest in the irregular shapes of the fence and overturned wheelbarrow on the edge of the darkened rise in the centre and how he silhouettes figures on the hill at the left.

Van Goyen dated at least seven other dune landscapes with roads and cottages in 1629. Especially close in design to the present work is the dunescape with lighted cottage dated one year earlier, 1628, formerly with the dealer Ehrhardt & Co., Berlin, 1929; compare also the design of the landscape dated 1629 in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, no. 6398. The silhouetted figures on the hilltop recur regularly in Van Goyen’s works from these years.

Peter C. Sutton