Saturday, May 20, 2006

Winter Landscape with a Gypsy Encampment

We think of modern artists as obsessively returning to certain types of landscape, whether for their symbolic value or formal qualities. In earlier centuries it is easier to imagine artists merely cornering particular sections of the landscape market. For instance, among early seventeenth century Flemish landscape painters, there were several in Antwerp specialising in woodland scenes, and among these Gijsbrecht Leytens (1586-1643/56) was the master at painting woodlands in winter. In Winter Landscape with a Gypsy Encampment there is a striking contrast between the dark foreground and the silvery-white branches beyond, the wood’s deep shadows and the golden winter light glimpsed through tunnel-like paths between the trees. The Bridgeman library has several other ‘Winterkens’ by Leytens: The Flight into Egypt, The Massacre of the Innocents, Winter Landscape. All these diverse scenes are covered in Leytens’ fine powder snow.

Postscript 2015 It is now possible to embed images in a way that was difficult when I wrote this brief post, so here are a sequence of Gijsbrecht Leytens images on Wikimedia Commons (dates are not given):  

Winter Landscape

A Winter Landscape with Woodcutter
Winter landscape with people strolling on the banks of a frozen river where children play

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