Landscape with an Italian Town
Karel Dujardin enjoys a reputation as one of the most accomplished Dutch painters of Italianate landscape. A drawing of a square in Rome, signed and dated 1653, appears to indicate that he likely visited Rome between 1652 and 1655. In 1675, he returned to Rome before proceeding to Venice, where he died in 1678. His second sojourn in Italy inspired Dujardin to renewed vibrancy in his depiction of the country’s landscape – strong light characterizes almost all his works from the 1670s. His paintings from this period show a powerful rendering of tone and surface, with smoothly applied impastoed layers replacing the thinner technique of his Amsterdam years. The compositions of these works emphasize the monumentality of the landscape, often showing the looming forms of mountains in the distance, and include small-scale figures placed within rather than in front of their surroundings. Presenting such a close view of a town is an exception amongst his late works; however, the imposing presence of the buildings, especially the tower, which dwarfs the figures in the foreground and finds an echo in the mountains behind, is entirely in keeping with the transcendent calm that characterizes the final phase of his career.