Dutch City Scene I
In this charming artwork, 19th-century landscape painter Lodewijk Johannes Kleyn (1817–1897), offers a quiet glimpse of daily life; at the centre of the composition, a figure fills a basket with fresh produce, likely purchased from the figure seated in front of her. Surrounding them are various townsfolk, such as a small child, a figure crossing the street, hunched from the weight of the bag over their shoulder, and a well-dressed couple strolling in the sun. Although integral to the composition and its atmosphere, the figures remain anonymous, as Kleyn has not given them any facial features. The location, however, can be identified as Amersfoort, a Dutch city that has roots harking back to the 11th century. Kleyn has masterfully rendered the typical characteristics of Dutch architecture. The painting includes tall and narrow buildings with flat facades, perforated with large windows that feature gables of both ornate and simple design. When looked at closely, Kleyn’s short and thick brushwork suggests an almost sketch-like quality. This is particularly noticeable in the leaves of the trees and the cobblestone effect of the pavement. His composition, however, remains precise, a quality which he achieves through the use of clean, visible outlines. Note, for example, the clarity in the rendering of the small structure in the middle of the road. This clarity contributes to the recognizability of the landscape, while his compelling rendering of depth, attention to details, such as the reflection of trees in windows, and the warm glow of the sun, create an engaging environment.