Although it is not clear where the motif originates, it can already be found in the 1610s and ‘20s, in drawings and prints by Jan and Esaias van de Velde, such as the latter’s etching, Farm beyond a Canal.1 By the years around 1650, such bridges were appearing regularly in prints, drawings and paintings by all the leading artists whose works depict the native Dutch landscape. Two particularly relevant examples are the only true landscape etching by Adriaen van Ostade (The Anglers (B.26), circa 1647-53), and a fine 1651 drawing by Jan van Goyen, in Groningen, which depicts a very similar bridge to the one seen here, though in a more open setting.2 In 1655, one year before he made the present drawing, Molijn himself made another, now in the Lugt Collection, showing a very similar bridge.3 That drawing corresponds closely to a painting by the artist now in Riga, while the present composition is closer to another painting, in Florence.4
A copy after this drawing is in the Biblioteca Reale, Turin.5
1. G.S. Keyes, Esaias van den Velde, Doornspijk 1984, cat. E 16, figs 58-9
2. Groninger Museum, inv 1931-163; H.-U. Beck, Jan van Goyen 1596-1656, I, Amsterdam 1972, no. 237
3. Beck, op. cit. 1998, no. 292
4. Florence, Palazzo Pitti, inv. 50.164; M. Chiarini, Gallerie e Musei Statali di Firenze. I Dipinti Olandesi del Seicento e del Settecento, Rome 1989, pp. 338-9
5. Inv. 16608; Beck op. cit., 1997, under no. 31, reproduced fig. 39
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