Born in Rotterdam to a family of artists, Saftleven moved to Utrecht in 1632. It was here that he established a successful career as a painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Saftleven's early work was reminiscent of artists such as Jan van Goyen, Abraham Bloemaert, and Jan Both, but by 1640s he turned towards renderings of small and exquisite landscapes, a genre that helped him develop a distinct style that would define his works for the last decades of his career.
From around 1650 onward, Saftleven traveled extensively throughout the Rhine valley. He recorded the topography and architecture of the lands he visited in countless drawings, which would later serve as inspiration for paintings he completed back home in Utrecht. Saftleven painted this peaceful yet lively vista of Linz am Rhein in Utrecht in 1663. He had first visited this foreign city, however, in 1651, recording it from another angle across the Rhein in a drawing now preserved in the Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem in the Nationalbibliothek, Vienna (fig. 1).
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