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Core Record

Title Night Scene
Collection Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum
Artist Imitator of Neer, Aert van der (Dutch painter, 1603-1677)
Previously attributed to Goyen, Jan van (Dutch painter and printmaker, 1596-1656)
Previously attributed to Neer, Aert van der (Dutch painter, 1603-1677)
Date Earliest possibly about 1750
Date Latest possibly about 1900
Description The painting does not match Van der Neer's authentic work in quality. The nets are dull and heavy, without the transparent appearance that he could achieve so easily. The fisherman's pose is clumsy and his costume odd. The unknown imitator was more successful in his rendering of the light and the cloudy sky, the saving grace of the work. The panel appears old, but the fact that many copies and imitations were made and the style of the work suggests a date in the later eighteenth or nineteenth century. The painting could have been produced as an honest imitation or a not wholly successful forgery.
Current Accession Number LEAMG:A396.1953
Subject landscape; everyday life; figure
Measurements 24.8 x 36.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Captain Mark Field 1953.
Provenance Purchased by Captain Field from E. Link for 100.
Publications Wolfgang Schulz, Aert van der Neer, Aetas Aureaseries, Davaco Publishers, Doornspijk 2002.

A label on the back reads: 'Aert' in faded ink.

Aert van der Neer, who signed his first name 'Aernout', was born in Amsterdam around 1603/4, although he is said to have spent his youth in Arkel near the River Waal. He originally worked as a steward for the lords of Arkel, but his acquaintance with the Camphuyzen brothers may have inspired him to start painting as a hobby. His wife Lysbeth (Liedtke) was probably the Camphuyzens's sister. Around 1632 the couple moved to Amsterdam where their eldest son Hendrick or Eglon (about 1634-1703) was born. Both he and his brother Johannes (Jan) van der Neer (1637/38-1665) were to become painters, although the latter is known mainly as his father's assistant and imitator.

Aert's earliest works included genre scenes and landscapes, which show stylistic similarities with the work of the Camphuyzen brothers and also betray the influence of Flemish-inspired landscapes. By the mid-1640s, Aert began to specialize in winter scenes and nocturnal river views, although he also produced many sunrise and sunset scenes. Most of his landscapes are imaginary, yet some may contain actual buildings or topographical details. It was his representation of light, through which he created a sense of atmosphere, that has made his work famous.

However, although he produced several hundred paintings, the artist was financially unsuccessful in his career. His best work dates from the mid-1640s until around 1660; most of it is small-scale but there are also a number of larger works that were probably commissioned. Few of his drawings survive. He appears to have kept a tavern in Amsterdam with his son Johannes between 1659 and 1662, but was declared bankrupt in December 1662. Despite extreme poverty, he continued to paint until his death in Amsterdam on 9 November 1677.

Aert van der Neer's work was especially admired in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although his paintings had already been copied and imitated during his life, still further imitations and forgeries were created around 1770-80 (especially moonlit landscapes la Van der Neer), and again in the period between 1815 and 1840 in central Europe and England, under the influence of Romanticism and through the accessibility of his work in public collections. Some of these copies were professional forgeries inscribed with false monograms. Less than one third of the estimated 1,400 works attributed to him since 1850 can now be considered authentic.

Rights Owner Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum (Warwick District Council)
Author Sophie Oosterwijk



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