Taking as his starting-point Jan Brueghel, who was the first artist to paint a forest landscape around 1595 (Galleria Ambrosia, Milan), Gillis van Coninxloo created his Forest Landscape, one of the highlights of Flemish landscape painting. In it, the viewer has a close-up view of a dense forest. He appears to be standing at a bend in the stream flowing out of the impenetrable wood towards him. In the middle, the stream runs around an island on which a traveller is encamped. The banks of the stream lend a sense of depth as they wend their way into the background. This painting, dated 1598, achieves great painterly intensity and an increasingly atmospheric quality in its fine shades of brown and green. Breaking through the mighty treetops, the light is reflected in the water and, against a background of impenetrable darkness, transforms the island on which the traveller is lying into an agreeable place. Through its accentuated handling of light, the forest landscape becomes highly atmospheric and seems to be positively charged with emotion.
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Gillis van Coninxloo
Forest Landscape, 1598
Oil on panel
height 42 cm, width 61 cm
Signed and dated bottom left: G V CONINCXLOO 1598
Inv.-No. GE751
Provenance: 1820 acquired by Prince Johann I von Liechtenstein at the auction of Prince Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz’s collection in Vienna
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