Over 60 paintings and preparatory drawings are used to explore the working practices of the talented Dutch artist.
There are few artists whose working practices are as well documented as Adriaen van de Velde’s. He would begin by sketching out a rough composition in pen and ink, before completing observational studies of the animals and figures that would populate the piece. He’d also make detailed drawings of individual components such as huts and trees. It was only after such lengthy preparation that he would finally begin to paint his landscape.
Van de Velde was born in Amsterdam in 1636, the son of a renowned marine artist. While his brother chose to follow in their father’s footsteps, Adriaen decided to pursue landscape painting as inspired by Paulus Potter.
Despite his short career – Van de Velde died aged just 35 – his intimate depictions of rural life in Holland earned him admiration among his contemporaries. In fact Van de Velde was able to integrate figures so seamlessly into his landscapes that he was often called upon to ‘paint them in’ for other artists.
Yet it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that his painterly abilities were truly recognised; a spike in posthumous fame causing collectors across England, Germany and France to desperately seek out his work.
Dulwich Picture Gallery hosts the first UK exhibition devoted to the artist. Encompassing 60 works, it reunites his paintings with the accompanying preparatory studies.