Jacob Esselens


Wood (oak), oil, 46.6 x 66.6 cm
Bottom left signature: J. Ess...

The picture presented is a typical example of Dutch tonal landscape.
The problem of conveying moist sea air, characteristic of Dutch nature, in painting led to the emergence of a unique phenomenon in European painting of the 17th century - tonal coloring. Artists, consciously limiting the palette, abandoned bright, local colors and used silver-ocher or olive tones. All details of the picture were depicted through gradations of tone. As a result, all parts of the picture, all objects were united by a common tone, and the overall tone created extraordinary integrity of the entire composition. The specific Dutch air “filled” the illusory space in the picture and everything in it was immersed in a single light-air environment.
Tonal coloring was used in all genres, but especially in landscape, where the light-air environment was most strongly revealed in perspective distances. Such landscapes are usually called “tonal”, and their most characteristic types are sea and coastal (river and seaside).
The tonal landscape was a real discovery of the Dutch artists of the 17th century and served to form the principles of realism in Dutch painting.

A. Jaffe, Berlin, 1929.
Kunsthaus auction, Berlin, October 20, 1931, lot 611, as Berkheide.
Mieck Gallery, 1967.

Dutch realism