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Landscape with the abduction of Europa

Hendrick van Minderhout

(1632 - 1696) | 818.1.16

Date : Circa 1690 | Medium : Oil on canvas

A little known artist, Hendrick van Minderhout was a Dutch painter who settled in Anvers in 1672. Thus he became part of a group of Northern European painters of landscapes, ports and battles, working in the style of the Italian artist Salvator Rosa. This group followed a tradition of fantasy landscape painting established by Weenix, Storck and Berchem which contrasted with the realist depictions of nature to be found in a Bakhuizen or a Van de Velde (father or son).

Pieter Spierinckx and Maarten Rijckaert were also part of the Anvers group, their works featuring the same Italian landscapes, the same warm light and the same sense of movement. Minderhout’s Cretan scene portraying the abduction of Europa by Jupiter, who has taken the form of a bull, was above all an excuse to paint a shoreline. The main subject was actually hidden by overpainting and only discovered as recently as 1992 when the painting was restored!

Flemish painting in the 17th century sometimes poses attribution problems; it is difficult to distinguish between the contributions, in the same painting, of the figure painter, the still-life painter and the landscape painter. For this reason landscapes by Minderhout have often been confused with those produced by Spierinckx. In this case however, we can, most unusually, read the signature ‘H. Minderhout’ centrally-placed on the lower edge of the canvas. It is a precious piece of evidence in a work that remains to be studied closely. The rendering of the misty atmosphere is particularly splendid and the diffuse light could be said to evoke the contemporaneous work of Claude Gellée, known as Le Lorrain.