Amsterdam
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Amsterdam about 1878
This view of one of Amsterdam’s many waterways includes two features that increasingly attracted Maris’s interest, and became a motif in his work: the windmills and the draw bridge. Draw bridges were used to span canals, and they could be raised to allow taller vessels to pass along the canal. Maris excelled at presenting ordinary subjects in a powerful way through his energetic application of paint and his dedication to the description of atmosphere. Although Maris’s picture draws heavily on the work of the French Impressionist painters, it is firmly rooted in the Dutch tradition of painting townscapes, which peaked in the seventeenth century with works such as Jan Vermeer’s ‘View of Delft’ (Mauritshuis, The Hague).

Glossary Open

Impressionism

An influential style of painting that originated in France in the 1870s with artists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir and Alfred Sisley. They were interested in capturing the changing effects of light, frequently exploring this through landscape scenes painted in the open air.

Motif

A distinctive element in a work of art or design.

Impressionism, Motif

Details

  • Acc. No. NG 1050
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 34.30 x 58.40 cm (framed: 62.00 x 86.00 x 9.50 cm)
  • Credit Bequest of Hugh A. Laird 1911