Joos de Momper the Younger specialized exclusively in landscapes. His large workshop in Antwerp was as productive as that of Rubens. The "Large Mountain Landscape" was probably painted c. 1620 during Momper’s most active phase when he was expanding his repertoire in which mountain landscape played a crucial role. His landscapes featured mostly Alpine ranges and some Scandinavian ones, too. There is no record of whether Momper, like most of his fellow artists, ever visited Italy, but many motifs in his work suggest that he did. The sense of space and form in his mountain views appears to bear all the marks of a journey across the Alps. Momper models himself on the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, who tended to stick more closely to nature, but his treatment of his observation of nature is freer. In the paintings he executed from memory, he combined at will any elements he had observed.

The viewer occupies a high vantage point; a path leads uphill beside steep, wooded slopes; the travellers walking along it emphasize the way it falls back down into the depths. There is a striking contrast between the tiny figures – so small as to be considered accessories (staffage), and thus probably the work of Hans Jordaens III (c. 1595– 1643) – and the massive rock formations. The inequality between them may well be intended to symbolize the power of nature over man. Yet nature here is artificial: the mountains appear fantastically stylized, which means that issues of statics and tectonics are not addressed, which in turn means even more scope for a wealth of invention. Essentially it amounts to an accumulation of generalized observations. Most of Momper’s landscapes have something fantastic about them: abnormally strong contrasts between light and dark are not the product of the fall of the light, and his tones become progressively lighter and cooler towards the back and distinguish individual zones.
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Joos de Momper the Younger
Large Mountain Landscape, c. 1620
Oil on canvas
height 226 cm, width 327 cm
Inv.-No. GE730
Provenance: before 1655 collection of Don Diego de Mexia Marquez de Leganes, Spanish ambassador in Brussels ; 1655 left to Conde De Altamira; until 1820 collection of the 8th Conde de Altamira; 1820 sold to Marquez de Salamanca in Madrid; 1985 auction at Sotheby’s in London; 1986 purchased by Prince Franz Josef II von und zu Liechtenstein
Further works on display
Landscape with a Mountain Pass, c. 1600/1610
Mountain Landscape with Pilgrims in a Grotto Chapel, c. 1616
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