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Maker(s):Heusch, Willem de
Culture:Dutch (1625-1692)
Title:Landscape with Diana and Nymphs
Date Made:ca. 1645
Materials:Oil on panel
Place Made:Europe
Measurements:Frame: 24 3/4 in x 22 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in; 62.9 cm x 57.1 cm x 4.4 cm; Panel: 17 11/16 in x 15 1/2 in; 44.9 cm x 39.4 cm
Narrative Inscription:  Unsigned, undated
Accession Number:  MH 1981.2
Credit Line:Purchase with the Warbeke Art Museum Fund
Museum Collection:  Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

Vertical landscape with diagonal view into right distance with two mountains in background. Tall trees fill the foreground of the composition at left. In central foreground, five female figures sit and stand (Diana and her Nymphs)

Label Text:
This classicizing depiction of the goddess Diana and her attendants is set in an arcadian landscape that strongly resembles the style of Jan Both, another member of the Italianate school of Dutch seventeenth-century landscape painters. In fact, this composition was painted around the same time as Both’s Italian Landscape with Travelers, also on view. In the same way that Both follows the landscape tradition of Catholic Utrecht and Italy, so to does De Heusch, who draws upon the idyllic, mythological poetry of Virgil. While at first glance Both and De Heusch’s styles appear very similar, there are subtle difference between the two. The latter’s approach is more delicate and meticulous; this is especially apparent when one observes the crisply defined branches and leaves on the trees in this painting. Furthermore, De Heusch’s romantic, pastoral landscapes are even more ethereal than Both’s and retain a greater sense of ageless places and seasons.

Dutch painters were extremely specialized in the seventeenth century and it was very common for a landscape painter to call upon a figural painter to add in staffage. For this particular composition, it is believed that De Heusch invited the Utrecht master Cornelis van Poelenburgh to paint the classical figures that grace the foreground.

This classical scene of Diana and her nymphs has been attributed to a passage from Virgil’s Georgics, which celebrates the beauty and power of nature and the importance of living in harmony with it. Bathed in low southern light, the young maidens are undisturbed, evoking a scene that echoes the poet’s description of “a cool glen and branchy shade.” This timeless image of ideal tranquility provides a quiet respite and a soothing glimpse into a perfect world, just as it has for centuries of viewers who have gazed wistfully at its beauty.



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