Soldiers and Villagers Leaving a Burning Village

Soldiers and Villagers Leaving a Burning Village
Artist:
Aert van der Neer (Dutch, 1603-1677)
Date:
1637  
Medium:
Oil on panel 
Dimensions:
14-3/8 x 20-1/4 in. (36.5 x 51.4 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon 
Accession Number:
M.2010.1.87.P 
Copyright:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View
Description

Aert van der Neer devoted himself to two specific categories of landscape painting, winter and moonlit scenes. This is one of his earliest known portrayals of fire and his considerable powers of observation are evident in the atmospheric effects of the thick smoke rising against the backdrop of a still smoldering town, the sight of a previous military siege.

Although the precise subject of this painting is unknown, it likely belongs to the pictorial genre that explored the life of the Dutch soldier. These included depictions of cavalry battles, images of soldiers at leisure and, occasionally, their abuse of citizenry. In this village scene smoke billows from the ruins of a burning Gothic church. Van der Neer captures both the emotions of the agitated villagers, who petition a gentleman on horseback, and the dejected postures of the manacled prisoners, who are being driven off by cavaliers on the right.

Provenance:

(sale, Paris, Palais Galliera, 6 April 1976, lot 47, ill., as “Soldats et villageois s’éloignant d’une ville en feu,” to);
[Sylvia Blatas, Paris, buying for];
Norton Simon, Los Angeles (sale, New York, Christie’s, 12 June 1981, lot 37, ill., as “Soldiers Leaving a Burning Village,” bought in);
Norton Simon, Los Angeles, bequest to;
Jennifer Jones Simon Art Trust, bequest 27 September 2010 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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