(Rotterdam 1609 - Utrecht 1685)
A Mountainous River Landscape with Fishermen
Signed with the artist’s monogram HSL at the lower left.
264 x 325 mm. (10 3/8 x 12 3/4 in.)
Stylistically comparable works by Saftleven include a Landscape with Castle on a Steep Rock in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, a Mountain Landscape of c.1650 in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, and a drawing of An Extensive Rocky River Landscape, signed and dated 1648, formerly in the John Appleby collection and sold at auction in 2010. Also comparable is a Rocky Landscape with Figures, dated 1648, in the British Museum, and a Rocky Bay with Fishermen, dated 1650, in a private collection.
A prolific artist, Saftleven produced around three hundred paintings and some 1,400 drawings, mostly finished landscapes, together with some forty etchings. Many of his drawings are signed and dated, large-scale sheets intended as independent works for collectors, as well as for such publications as the Amsterdam collector Laurens van der Hem’s fifty-volume Atlas Maior. Writing around 1660, the Dutch poet and playwright Joost van der Vondel, who was a friend of Saftleven’s, noted in verse that, whomsoever owned an album of the artist’s landscape drawings, could ‘Catch some air, if he wants, / While staying home, safe and quiet: / He can quietly travel up the Rhine, / from Utrecht, and its Cathedral; / Between banks and streams, / Between vineyards, woods, and trees, / To amuse himself, / Canals, cities and farmland, / Herds, cattle, villages and hamlets, / Fields, and townships, and fences, / To behold Springs and waterfalls, / In his room, when he turns / To these works on paper, / So full of life, so full of elegance.’ In the last few years of his career, between 1680 and 1684, Saftleven drew nearly a hundred botanical drawings of flowers and plants, in watercolour and gouache, that were commissioned from him by the amateur horticulturalist and botanist Agnes (Agneta) Block, although less than thirty of these works survive today. Significant groups of landscape drawings by Herman Saftleven are in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, the British Museum in London and the Albertina in Vienna.