View of Antwerp from the Scheldt
17.50x22.50cm, oil on panel.
Monogrammed and remains of dating bottom left : GN 16 ...
Gillis Neyts was a Flemish painter, draughtsman and engraver. Probably a pupil of Lucas van Uden he was a landscape artist who is now mainly known for his italianising and topographical drawings of sites throughout the Southern Netherlands. He was living in Antwerp in 1643, when he married, and in 1647 he was registered in the Guild of Saint Luke in the town, describing himself as a master painter and engraver. By 1655, however, he had moved to Namur, where he made many studies of the landscapes in and around the Meuse valley. Although some religious and mythological paintings are known from his early career, the vast majority of his later output was as a landscape painter.
Gillis Neyts’s paintings are represented in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; the National Gallery of Canada. Two albums of drawings by Neyts are in the British Museum.
Seventeenth-century Netherlanders had a passion for depictions of city and countryside, either real or imaginary. Local scenery asserted Holland’s national pride, while vistas of foreign sites recalled the extent of its overseas commerce. Holland’s ocean ports teemed with fishing and trading ships, and the tiny country’s merchant fleet was almost as large as all the rest of maritime Europe’s combined. The Dutch prized seascapes and insisted on accurate renderings of each hull and rigging line. Genre incidents from everyday life animate most Dutch landscapes and seascapes.
Much of the Netherlands is a low marsh formed by the deltas of the Rhine and Maas rivers. A third of the country was actually below sea level, reclaimed behind dikes and drained through pumps run by windmills. In such a flat environment, the horizon seems to lie below one’s feet; so, the sky overhead dominates the view.
A quality that sets Dutch landscape paintings apart from those of other nations is the amount of space devoted to the moist, ocean air and the sun glowing through the ever-present clouds. With their emphasis on atmosphere, Dutch landscapes might better be called “sky-scapes.”
Private collection, Amsterdam,
Collection of Art-Life Projekt, Tallinn,
Private collection, Zürich, Switzerland
Art Rules, Tallinn, Estonia, 2015