Aelbert Cuyp Biography
Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp (Dordrecht October 20, 1620 - Dordrecht November 15, 1691) was one of the leading Dutch landscape painters of the 17th century. The most famous of a family of painters, the pupil of his father Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp (1594–1651/52), he is especially known for his view paintings of the Dutch countryside in early morning or late afternoon. Sunlight in Cuyp paintings rakes across the panel, accentuating small bits of detail in the golden light. In large, atmospheric panoramas of the countryside, the highlights on a blade of meadow grass, the mane of a tranquil horse, the horn of a dairy cow reclining by a stream, or the tip of a peasant’s hat are all caught in a bath of yellow ocher light. The quality of paint in a painting by Cuyp is unmistakably masterful. The richly varnished medium refracts the rays of light like a jewel as it dissolves into numerous glazed layers.
Cuyp’s drawings reveal him to be a draftsman of superior quality. Light-drenched washes of golden brown ink depict a distant view of the city of Dordrecht or Utrecht. A Cuyp drawing may look like he intended it to be, a finished work of art; but it was most likely taken back to the studio and used as a reference for his paintings. Often the same section of a sketch can be found in several different paintings. Cuyp’s landscape paintings were based on reality and on his own invention of what an enchanting landscape should be.
Cuyp signed many of his paintings but rarely dated them, so that a chronology of his career has not been satisfactorily reassembled. A phenomenal number of paintings are ascribed to him, some of which are likely to be by other masters of the golden landscape, such as Abraham Calraet (1642–1722), whose initials A.C. may be mistaken for Cuyp’s.