During the seventeenth century, a group of Dutch artists found themselves lured by the light of Italy. One such artist was the landscape painter Willem de Heusch, who lived in Italy from circa 1640-45 until returning to his hometown of Utrecht by 1649. This period had a profound impact upon his work: going so far as to start signing his work G D Heusch, adopting the Italianate form of his name by using a ‘G’ rather than a ‘W’; Guglielmo. Upon his return to Holland, he became Dean of the Guild of St Luke; fellow Dutch landscape painters Jan Both and Cornelis van Poelenburgh were also on the council.
Like his teacher Jan Both who he often emulated in his compositions, de Heusch painted romantic visions of the Campagna; the Italian countryside around Rome. Unlike Claude Lorrain, whose work from his time in Italy was highly influential to de Heusch, Willem rarely introduced biblical scenes into his landscapes, choosing to depict the utopian dream instead. The below original red chalk sketch and the above oil on panel of an Italianate Landscape evokes the Arcadian world that de Heusch is known for.
These two expressive pieces have only recently been reunited for the first time after hundreds of years apart, when the sketch was purchased from a major international auction house in New York and the oil on panel was purchased from the collection of an English Lord. The slender and delicate trees, which gracefully entwine themselves amongst each other, obscure the background, provoking a desire in the spectator to journey onwards into the distance. In the foreground, a shepherd herds three donkeys homewards along a rocky track.
We are delighted to offer these two works, attributed to Willem de Heusch, in our forthcoming Spring edition of The Classic Tradition to be held live online on Thursday 28th May.