Illustrated companion

This is the most important early landscape painting in the Tate Gallery collections. It marks the beginning of a kind of art that became increasingly widespread in Britain through the eighteenth century, and reached its fullest flowering in the first half of the nineteenth in the work of Turner and Constable. In it can be seen both the love of the domestic, agricultural English rural scene later so celebrated by Constable, and the fascination with the wilder aspects of nature, such as storms and their accompanying dramatic effects of light, including rainbows, that were of more particular interest to Turner. In British landscape art at this early date, Siberechts's painting is also remarkable for the fact that it shows a recognisable and specific English scene treated with such thoughtfulness. Particularly notable is the attention Siberechts has paid to the complex effects of light and atmosphere and the skilful naturalism with which he has rendered these - notice the way in which the areas of light and shadow on the landscape relate to the light and dark areas of the sky.

The whole idea of this kind of landscape painting grew up in Holland and Flanders in the seventeenth century and reflects the changes which took place in human attitudes to the landscape as the modern world evolved. Jan Siberechts came to England from Antwerp, in Flanders, in 1674, at the age of about forty-seven and stayed for the rest of his life. He mainly earned a living by painting views of country houses and their surroundings for their owners - a kind of picture whose primary purpose was to display pride in ownership. This picture may also have been ordered by a landowner but it speaks to us too of a purely meditative love of nature.

Published in:
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, Tate Gallery, London, revised edition 1991, p.19