Antwerp 1627 - London 1703
oil on panel
120 x 100 cm
Inventory number 886
The Flemish landscapes by Jan Siberechts often feature a ford or a flooded sunken road flanked by hedgerows or trees. They are usually bathing in cold, harsh sunlight, creating a somewhat unreal atmosphere. The scenes also often feature peasants driving their cattle through the water. The melancholy nature of the paintings diverges from the typically humoristic representation of peasant life that was so popular at the time. In this particular example, all attention is focused on the peasant girl with a copper pot on her head. To the right behind her, another woman is washing her feet as a dog drinks from the ford. The bright red clothing of the peasant girl contrasts strongly with the brown and green hues in the background and accentuates her slightly static posture. Siberechts was so satisfied with the composition of the painting that he also used it as a basis for Interior with a Woman Embroidering and Rocking a Child in a Cradle, which is in the collection of Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.
Jan Siberechts is considered the most important Flemish landscape painter of the second half of the 17th century. He moved to England around 1672 on the invitation of George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, whose residence he helped decorate. His work was so influential in England that he may rightly be regarded as the ‘father’ of British landscape painting.