Meindert Hobbema Galleries
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. Though his landscapes are severely and moderately toned, generally in an olive key, and often attuned to a puritanical grey or russet, they surprise us, not only by the variety of their leafage, but by the finish of their detail as well as the boldness of their touch. With astonishing subtlety light is shown penetrating cloud, and illuminating, sometimes transiently, sometimes steadily, different portions of the ground, shining through leaves upon other leaves, and multiplying in an endless way the transparency of the picture. If the chance be given him he mirrors all these things in the still pool near a cottage, the reaches of a sluggish river, or the swirl of the stream that feeds a busy mill. The same spot will furnish him with several pictures. One mill gives him repeated opportunities of charming our eye; and this wonderful artist, who is only second to Ruisdael because he had not Ruisdael's versatility and did not extend his study equally to downs and rocky eminences, or torrents and estuaries - this is the man who lived penuriously, died poor, and left no trace in the artistic annals of his country. It has been said that Hobbema did not paint his own figures, but transferred that duty to Adriaen van de Velde, Lingelbach, Barendt Gael, and Abraham Storck. As to this much is conjecture.
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC