Meyndert Hobbema Dutch Painter 1638 AD - 1709 AD
Meindert Hobbema (bapt. Oct 31, 1638, Amsterdam - Dec 7, 1709, Amsterdam), was perhaps the greatest landscape painter of the Dutch school after Ruisdael. He lived at Amsterdam in the second half of the 17th century. The facts of his life are somewhat obscure. Nothing is more disappointing than to find that in Hobbema's case chronology and signed pictures substantially contradict each other. According to the latter his practice lasted from 1650 to 1689; according to the former his birth occurred in 1638, his death as late as 1709. If the masterpiece formerly in the Bredel collection, called A Wooded Stream, honestly bears the date of 1650, or The Cottages under Trees of the Ford collection the date of 1652, the painter of these canvases cannot be Hobbema, whose birth took place in 1638, unless indeed we admit that Hobbema painted some of his finest works at the age of twelve or fourteen. For a considerable period it was profitable to pass Hobbemas as Ruysdaels, and the name of the lesser master was probably erased from several of his productions. When Hobbema's talent was recognized, the contrary process was followed, and in this way the name, and perhaps fictitious dates, reappeared by fraud. An experienced eye will note the differences which occur in Hobbema's signatures in such well-known examples as adorn the galleries of London and Rotterdam, or the Grosvenor and van der Hoop collections. Meanwhile, we must be content to know that, if the question of dates could be brought into accordance with records and chronology, the facts of Hobbema's life would be as follows. Meyndert Hobbema was married at the age of thirty to Eeltije Vinck of Gorcum, in the Oudekerk or old church at Amsterdam, on the 2nd of November 1668. Witnesses to the marriage were the bride's brother Cornelius Vinck and Jacob Ruysdael. We might suppose from this that Hobbema and Ruysdael, the two great masters of landscape, were united at this time by ties of friendship, and accept the belief that the former was the pupil of the latter. Yet even this is denied to us, since records tell us that there were two Jacob Ruysdaels, cousins and contemporaries, at Amsterdam in the middle of the 17th century - one a framemaker, the son of Solomon, the other a painter, the son of Isaac Ruysdael. Of Hobbema's marriage there came between 1668 and 1673 four children. In 1704 Eeltije died, and was buried in the pauper section of the Leiden cemetery at Amsterdam. Hobbema himself survived till December 1709, receiving burial on the 14th of that month in the pauper section of the Westerkerk cemetery at Amsterdam. Husband and wife had lived during their lifetime in the Rozengracht, at no great distance from Rembrandt, who also dwelt there in his later and impoverished days. Rembrandt, Hals, Jacob Ruysdael, and Hobbema were in one respect alike. They all died in misery, insufficiently rewarded perhaps for their toil, imprudent perhaps in the use of the means derived from their labours. Posterity has recognized that Hobbema and Ruysdael together represent the final development of landscape art in Holland. Their style is so related that we cannot suppose the first to have been unconnected with the second. Still their works differ in certain ways, and their character is generally so marked that we shall find little difficulty in distinguishing them, nor indeed shall we hesitate in separating those of Hobbema from the feebler productions of his imitators and predecessors - Isaac Ruysdael, Rontbouts, de Vries, Dekker, Looten, Verboom, du Bois, van Kessel, van der Hagen, even Philip de Koningk. In the exercise of his craft Hobbema was patient beyond all conception. It is doubtful whether any one ever so completely mastered as he did the still life of woods and hedges, or mills and pools. Nor can we believe that he obtained this mastery otherwise than by constantly dwelling in the same neighbourhood, say in Guelders or on the Dutch Westphalian border, where day after day he might study the branching and foliage of trees and underwood embowering cottages and mills, under every variety of light, in every shade of transparency, in all changes produced by the seasons.