Wooded riverbank with a family washing and fishing


Pieter MOLYN
London 1595 – 1661 Haarlem

Wooded riverbank with a family washing and fishing

Black chalk, touches of brush in brown ink; brown ink framing lines.
153 x 240 mm (6 x 9-1/2 in)

WATERMARK: horn in crowned cartouche with indistinct letters below,
similar to Gaudriault no. 385 (dated 1623). (R19, R19a)
CHAIN LINES: horizontal, 25 mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: signed and dated PMolyn 1634 at lower left (black chalk).
PROVENANCE: L. X. Lannoy, his sale, Amsterdam, R.W.P. de Vries, 1 December 1893, lot 229.
Sale, Amsterdam, Frederik Muller, 15 June 1908, lot 411.
Sale, Amsterdam, Christie’s, 9 November 1998, lot 72, acquired at the sale.
LITERATURE: Beck 1998, p. 56, no. 44 (illus.).
EXHIBITIONS: Cat. Dresden 1909, no. 244.

Robinson, Franklin W. and Peck, Sheldon. Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Drawings from the Peck Collection. Chapel Hill/ Ithaca/ Worcester. 1999-2001. Published catalogue.


Molyn, who was born in London of Flemish parents but who spent his career in Haarlem, played a major role in the “making” of what we think of as the typical Dutch landscape in the 1620s and 1630s. Esaias van de Velde, Jan van Goyen, Salomon van Ruysdael, Pieter Santvoort, and Molyn, among others, created a world of villages, farms, canals, and lakes where men and women are at home, happily going about their business, at work or at play.

The present work from 1634 is an unusually important document, as it were, of Molyn’s early style; according to Beck, it is the only signed and dated drawing of this period, so it establishes the artist’s style of the 1630s. What is fascinating about the sheet is its relationship to other artists of the time. On the one hand, it is clearly indebted to van de Velde and especially van Goyen in subject matter and in composition, moving from foreground left to middle ground right to background left. Nevertheless, it is very different in execution and feeling from van Goyen; Molyn is more restless, more muscular, more instinctively monumental. There is here the same energy and intensity that we see in the following drawing, by Molyn a quarter of a century later, but with no hint of the indifference or even hostility of nature that is so moving in his drawings of the 1650s. Details like the juxtaposition of the stake in the foreground and the tower behind, the explosion of foliage in the center, and the intricate working of people and cottages into the profusion of trees reveal an artist already in control of his medium.