Jan Siberechts

Landscape with Rainbow, Henley-on-Thames

c.1690

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 819 x 1029 mm
frame: 1040 x 1262 x 95 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1967
Reference
T00899

Summary

One of the most important early landscapes in the Tate's collection, this view of Henley-on-Thames is one of several the artist made of the subject, the last dated picture being painted in 1698. Such realistic representations of landscape were not prevalent among British artists, and Siberechts's skilful use of light and shadow and meticulous attention to detail reflect his Flemish background. His depiction is not entirely accurate - the view is embellished and the perspective distorted - but it has an appearance of realism and shows recognisable features. The church on the right of the picture still stands.

Sir Thomas Willoughby, 1st Baron Middleton, commissioned from Siberechts prospects of Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire. Over a number of years, he also commissioned from the artist a series of views of various places in England, including a view looking towards Henley-on-Thames, dated 1692. It is not known if Lord Middleton commissioned this picture as well, or if it was painted with a different audience in mind. Its contemplative nature sets it apart from typical commissioned work.

Further reading:
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, London, revised 1991, p.19, reproduced in colour

Terry Riggs
October 1997

Display caption

We do not know why, or rather for what purpose, this painting was commissioned. It may have been produced for a landowner anxious to display his wealth, but it displays a greater concern with nature and the English landscape, and the effects of the weather.

However, the figures to the left, pulling the heavily-laden barge along the river Thames, remind us that this is a working countryside, and that waterways were vital for the transportation of food and goods to and from the urban centres.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Jan Siberechts 1627–c.1700

T00899 Landscape with Rainbow, Henley-on-Thames circa 1690

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 32¼ x 40½ (82 x 103).
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1967.
Coll. Major Perceval of Ballymote, Co. Sligo, having probably belonged to the Perceval family since the 18th century; sold c. 1962–3 to Gerald Kenyon, Dublin; Marshall Spink, from whom purchased by the Friends of the Tate Gallery.

The site of this landscape has not been identified though it seems quite definitely to show a specific place. Henley on Thames has been suggested but a scene in Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire seems more likely. Probably a late work.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1966–1967, London 1967.

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