1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cuyp

CUYP, the name of a Dutch family which produced two generations of painters. The Cuyps were long settled at Dordrecht, in the neighbourhood of which they had a country house, where Albert Cuyp (the most famous) was born and bred.

The eldest member of the family who acquired fame was Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, born it is said at Dordrecht in 1575, and taught by Abraham Bloemaert of Utrecht. He is known to have been alive in 1649, and the date of his death is obscure. J. G. Cuyp’s pictures are little known. But he produced portraits in various forms, as busts and half-lengths thrown upon plain backgrounds, or groups in rooms, landscapes and gardens. Solid and clever as an imitator of nature in its ordinary garb, he is always spirited, sometimes rough, but generally plain, and quite as unconscious of the sparkle conspicuous in Frans Hals as incapable of the concentrated light-effects peculiar to Rembrandt. In portrait busts, of which there are signed examples dated 1624, 1644, 1646 and 1649, in the museums of Berlin, Rotterdam, Marseilles, Vienna and Metz, his treatment is honest, homely and true; his touch and tone firm and natural. In portraying children he is fond of introducing playthings and pets—a lamb, a goat or a roedeer; and he reproduces animal life with realistic care. In a family scene at the Amsterdam Museum we have likenesses of men, women, boys and girls with a cottage and park. In the background is a coach with a pair of horses. These examples alone give us a clue to the influences under which Albert Cuyp grew up, and explain to some extent the direction which his art took as he rose to manhood.

Albert Cuyp (1620–1691), the son of Jacob Gerritsz by Grietche Dierichsdochter (Dierich’s daughter), was born at Dordrecht. He married in 1658 Cornelia Bosman, a rich widow, by whom he had an only daughter. By right of his possessions at Dordwyck, Cuyp was a vassal of the county of Holland, and privileged to sit in the high court of the province. As a citizen he was sufficiently well known to be placed on the list of those from whom William III., stadtholder of the Netherlands, chose the regency of Dordrecht in 1672. His death, and his burial on the 7th of November 1691 in the church of the Augustines of Dordrecht, are historically proved. But otherwise the known facts concerning his life are few. He seldom dates his pictures, but it appears probable that he ceased to paint about 1675. It has been said that Albert was the pupil of his father. The scanty evidence of Dutch annalists to this effect seems confirmed by a certain coincidence in the style and treatment of father and son. That he was a pupil of van Goyen has been surmised on the strength of the style of his early works. It has been likewise stated that Albert was skilled, not only in the production of portraits, landscapes and herds, but in the representation of still life. His works are supposed to be divisible into such as bear the distinctive marks C. or A. C. in cursive characters, the letters A. C. in Roman capitals, and the name “A. Cuyp” in full. A man of Cuyp’s acknowledged talent may have been versatile enough to paint in many different styles. But whether he was as versatile as some critics have thought is a question not quite easy to answer. It is to be observed that pieces assigned to Cuyp representing game, shell-fish and fruit, and inscribed A. C. in Roman capitals (Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Berlin museums), though cleverly executed, are not in touch or treatment like other pictures of less dubious authenticity, signed either with C. or A. C. or “A. Cuyp” in cursive letters. The panels marked C. and A. C. in cursive are portraits or landscapes, with herds, and interiors of stables or sheds, in which there are cows, horses and poultry. The subjects and their handling are akin to those which strike us in panels bearing the master’s full signature, though characterized, as productions of an artist in the first phase of his progress would naturally be, by tones more uniform, touch more flat, and colour more deep than we find in the delicate and subtle compositions of the painter’s later time. Generally speaking, the finished examples of Cuyp’s middle and final period all bear his full signature. They are all remarkable for harmonies attained by certain combinations of shade in gradations with colours in contraposition.

Albert Cuyp, a true child of the Netherlands, does not seem to have wandered much beyond Rotterdam on the one hand or Nijmwegen on the other. His scenery is that of the Meuse or Rhine exclusively; and there is little variety to notice in his views of water and meadows at Dordrecht, or the bolder undulations of the Rhine banks east of it, except such as results from diversity of effect due to change of weather or season or hour. Cuyp is to the river and its banks what Willem Vandevelde is to calm seas and Hobbema to woods. There is a poetry of effect, an eternity of distance in his pictures, which no Dutchman ever expressed in a similar way. His landscapes sparkle with silvery sheen at early morning, they are bathed in warm or sultry haze at noon, or glow with heat at eventide. Under all circumstances they have a peculiar tinge of auburn which is Cuyp’s and Cuyp’s alone. Bürger truly says van Goyen is gray, Ruysdael is brown, Hobbema olive, but Cuyp “is blond.” The utmost delicacy may be observed in Cuyp’s manner of defining reflections of objects in water, or of sight from water on ship’s sides. He shows great cleverness in throwing pale-yellow clouds against clear blue skies, and merging yellow mists into olive-green vegetation. He is also very artful in varying light and shade according to distance, either by interchange of cloud-shadow and sun-gleam or by gradation of tints. His horses and cattle are admirably drawn, and they relieve each other quite as well if contrasted in black and white and black and red, or varied in subtler shades of red and brown. Rich weed-growth is expressed by light but marrowy touch, suggestive of detail as well as of general form. The human figure is given with homely realism in most cases, but frequently with a charming elevation, when, as often occurs, the persons represented are meant to be portraits. Whatever the theme may be it remains impressed with the character and individuality of Cuyp. Familiar subjects of the master’s earlier period are stables with cattle and horses (Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Petersburg and Brussels museums). Occasionally he painted portraits in the bust form familiar to his father, one of which is dated 1649, and exhibited in the National Gallery, London. More frequently he produced likenesses of ladies and gentlemen on horseback, in which the life and dress of the period and the forms of horses are most vividly represented (Buckingham Palace, Bridgewater Gallery, Louvre and Dresden Museum). Later on we find him fondest of expansive scenery with meadows and cattle and flocks, or rivers and barges in the foreground and distances showing the towers and steeples of Dordrecht. Cuyp was more partial to summer than to winter, to noon than to night, to calm than to storm. But some of his best groups are occasionally relieved on dark and gusty cloud (Louvre and Robarts’s collection). A few capital pieces show us people sledging and skating or netting ice-holes (Yarborough, Neeld and Bedford collections). A lovely “Night on the Banks of a River,” in the Grosvenor collection, reminds us that Cuyp’s friend and contemporary was the painter of moonlights, Aart van der Neer, to whom he was equal in the production of these peculiar effects and superior in the throw of figures. Sometimes Cuyp composed fancy subjects. His “Orpheus charming the Beasts,” in the Bute collection, is judiciously arranged with the familiar domestic animals in the foreground, and the wild ones, to which he is a comparative stranger, thrown back into the distance. One of his rare gospel subjects is “Philip baptizing the Eunuch” (Marchmont House, Berwickshire), described as a fine work by Waagen. The best and most attractive of Cuyp’s pieces are his Meuse and Rhine landscapes, with meadows, cattle, flocks and horsemen, and occasionally with boats and barges. In these he brought together and displayed—during his middle and final period—all the skill of one who is at once a poet and a finished artist; grouping, tinting, touch, harmony of light and shade, and true chords of colours are all combined. Masterpieces of acknowledged beauty are the “Riders with the Boy and Herdsman” in the National Gallery; the Meuse, with Dordrecht in the distance, in three or four varieties, in the Bridgewater, Grosvenor, Holford and Brownlow collections; the “Huntsman” (Ashburton); “Herdsmen with Cattle,” belonging to the marquess of Bute; and the “Piper with Cows,” in the Louvre. The prices paid for Cuyp’s pictures in his own time were comparatively low. In 1750, 30 florins was considered to be the highest sum to which any one of his panels was entitled. But in more recent times the value of the pictures has naturally risen very largely. At the sale of the Clewer collection at Christie’s in 1876 a small “Hilly Landscape in Morning Light” was sold for £5040, and a view on the Rhine, with cows on a bank, for £3150.  (J. A. C.) 

John Smith’s Catalogue raisonné of the Dutch and Flemish painters,in 9 vols. (1840), enumerated 335 of Albert Cuyp’s works, of which in 1877 Sir J. A. Crowe wrote in this encyclopaedia that “it would be difficult now to find more than a third of them.” In C. Hofstede de Groot’s Catalogue raisonné, vol. ii. (1909), revising Smith’s, the number is extended to nearly 850, but he accepts too readily the attributions of sale catalogues; the work is, however, the best modern authority on the painter.