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Dutch Painting

The Rotterdam Gate at Delft

Jan van Kessel
c. 1649–1669
17.9 x 24.4 cm.
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, De Grez Collection
The Rotterdam Gate at Delft, Jan van Kessel

Jan van KESSEL

Dutch painter and draughtsman. He was a follower, and probably a pupil, of Jacob van Ruisdael and covered the same range of subjects painted by Ruisdael, with the exception of marine paintings. However, van Kessel is best known for his townscapes and panoramic views, as exemplified by the Sluice and the New City Ramparts of Amsterdam in Winter (Amsterdam, Historisches Museum) and the Bleaching Grounds near Haarlem (Brussels, Musée d'Art Ancienne). He imitated the water-mills and village scenes of his friend Meindert Hobbema, as well as the waterfalls of Allaert van Everdingen, the wooded landscapes of Jan Wynants and the winter scenes of Jan van de Capelle. Many of van Kessel's 120 surviving pictures, including The Avenue (Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie) and the Ford in the Woods (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie), were once attributed to Van Ruisdael and these other masters (often with an authentic signature covered by the better-known name).

Van Kessel is also frequently confused with other minor artists in Van Ruisdael's circle, especially Jan Vermeer van Haarlem the younger, Isaac Koene (1637/40–1713), Jacob Salomonsz. van Ruysdael (1629/30–1681) and Anthonie van Borssum. As a draughtsman, Van Kessel emulated Van Ruisdael's mature style, working almost exclusively in black chalk and grey wash. The best of his 70 drawings are townscapes, although his studies of trees and depictions of farmsteads are noteworthy. A number of correlations exist between his sketches and paintings. There is no known relationship with the Flemish artists of the same name.

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