Meindert Hobbema (bapt. October 31, 1638 – December 7, 1709), was a Dutch Golden Age painter, almost exclusively of landscapes and specializing in views of woodland, although his most famous painting, The Avenue at Middelharnis (National Gallery, London), shows a different type of scene.
Hobbema was born and died in Amsterdam. Son of a carpenter named Lubbert Meyndertsz, he adopted the surname Hobbema quite early on, although it is not known why. He spent a period in an orphanage from 1653, but by about two years later he had left, and soon became a pupil of the leading Amsterdam landscapist, Jacob van Ruisdael, whose influence was to dominate his work. His signed pictures come from 1658 to 1689. For a considerable period it was profitable to pass Hobbemas as Ruisdaels, and the name of the lesser master was probably erased from several of his productions.
There have been no critical or biographical monographs written on Hobbema since 1938, with the single exception of "Hobbema and Heidegger; on Truth and Beauty" by Rivca Gordon and Haim Gordon, published in 2008.
Meindert Hobbema was married at the age of thirty to Eeltije Vinck of Gorcum; who was his serving maid; in the Oude Kerk (Old Church) at Amsterdam, on 2 November 1668. Witnesses to the marriage were the bride's brother Cornelius Vinck and Jacob Ruisdael. 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 recognised that Hobbema and Ruisdael together represent the final development of landscape art in Holland. 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 Isaack van Ruisdael, Gillis Rombouts (1630–1678), Jacob Feytsz. de Vries, Cornelis Gerritsz Decker, Jan Looten, Adriaen Hendriksz Verboom, Guillam Dubois, Jan van Kessel (1641–1680), Joris van der Haagen, 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. 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, Barend Gael, and Abraham Storck. As to this much is conjecture.
The best of Hobbema's dated pictures are those of the years 1640 to 1642. Of the former, several in the galleries of Brussels and St Petersburg. Of several pieces in the National Gallery, including the Avenue at Middelharnis, which some assign to 1689, and the Ruins of Brederode Castle, two are dated 1667. A sample of the last of these years is also in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. There are other fine Hobbema's in the Antwerp Museum and the Scottish National Gallery.
- In 1891 a hamlet in Alberta (Canada) was called Hobbema after the painter. On 1 January 2014 the name was changed to Maskwacis (meaning Bear Hills) on request of the native Cree who live in the area.
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- Cundall, Frank. The landscape and pastoral painters of Holland (Scribner & Welford, 1891) pp. 39–62.
- "Grove": John Loughman. "Hobbema, Meindert." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 20 Feb. 2017. subscription required.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hobbema, Meyndert". Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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