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Aelbert Cuyp

Aelbert Cuyp

The Dutch landscape artist Aelbert Cuyp was born on October 20, 1620 in Dordrecht. He was taught by his father, Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, a portrait painter who as a student of art had been taught by Abraham Bloemaert in Utrecht. Cupy senior was also known as an accomplished painter of animal subjects.

As a practicing artist, Aelbert Cuyp was initially influenced by the works of Jan van Goyen. He was using a similar naturalistic style for the subjects he painted between 1639 and 1645. These were mainly still life paintings, but then he changed his style entirely and began to depict the effects of light in larger landscape paintings. It is likely that he was influenced by the art of Jan Both, the Dutch painter who had recently returned from Rome, where he had studied the Italian style of painting directional light.

Between 1650 and 1670 Aelbert Cuyp developed his own distinctive style of handling light and shade to great effect. He was able to produce a large number of landscape paintings from the drawings he had made during his travels around the countryside, in his own region and in other parts of the Netherlands. These were the paintings that established his reputation as a leading landscape artist.

Aelbert Cuyp also painted genre and Biblical scenes but mostly was he wanted was to be able to capture in paint the hazy light of the early morning sun and the warm glow of the evening light. He painted serene landscapes with cattle grazing in meadows, river scenes and views of boats on the water. His distinctive use of light had an influence on some artists outside of Dordrecht. They were painting similar scenes during what was to become known as the Golden Age of Dutch painting.

Unfortunately Aelbert Cuyp never dated any of his paintings and he simply signed them with his initials ‘AC’. In future centuries this was to lead to some confusion and misattribution of works by other artists, one in particularly who shared the same initials and signed his works in exactly the same way as Cuyp.

Aelbert Cupy inherited a considerable amount of wealth from his late parents and in 1658 he married a widowed woman from a wealthy patrician family. At this time he was closely involved in the reformed church. In 1659 he became a deacon of the local Reformed Association and in 1667 he was was elected as an elder of the Church Council.

In the 1680s Aelbert Cuyp was no longer an active artist. He became a serving member of the Tribunal, representing the Southern Provinces and then, following the death of his wife in 1689, he went to live with his daughter and his son-in-law. His prodigious period of painting had suddenly come to an end in the 1660s, at some after his marriage and his involvement in the church. Aelbert Cuyp’s reputation as a Dutch landscape painter had almost been forgotten at the time of his death in Dordrecht. He died on November 15, 1691.

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