64 cm by 47 cm re-lined canvas
76 cm by 60 cm frame
The artist, most certainly Jan Wildens, offers us an animated landscape of characters and greyhounds. The horizon line is low but the sky is almost entirely occupied by the tall trees in the foreground. On the right side of the painting in the background a more distant landscape in the manner of Brueghel from which emerges the roof of what seems to be a church. The group of figures, superbly executed, in the foreground on the left shows us a swordsman mounting his superb white horse, helped by his squire. A small pack of three greyhounds is at their feet. In the center of other characters and other dogs, one of which is drinking from the river.
Jan Wildens (1585; 1653)
Jan Wildens' paintings are characterized by idyllic landscapes, lush forests, winding rivers and scenic views. He was particularly good at depicting details in nature, such as tree leaves, rocks, and waterways. His compositions were often inhabited by characters, animals or mythological figures. Wildens is also known for his mastery of light and atmosphere. Her color palette is rich and vibrant, capturing the changing nuances of nature. The respect of his contemporaries for his art is reflected in the numerous cases of collaboration. Wildens provided landscape backgrounds in the works of artists such as Abraham Janssens (c. 1575–1632), Rubens, Frans Snyders (1579–1657), Gerard Seghers (1591–1651), Jacob Jordaens I (1593 –1678), Paul de Vos (1595–1678), Theodoor Rombouts (1597–1637), Cornelis Schut (1597–1655) and Jan Boeckhorst (c. 1604–1668).
Born in Antwerp, probably in 1585, Wildens is the son of Hendrik Wildens and Magdalena Vosbergen. His father died early, and his mother remarried to Cornelis Cock whose daughter Susanne was to marry in 1617 Cornelis de Vos, brother of Paul de Vos and also brother-in-law of Frans Snyders. He is therefore part of a family of painters. At the age of ten he began an apprenticeship with Pieter van der Hulst. Jan Wildens was enrolled in the Guild of Saint Luke as an apprentice in 1596 and became master of the Guild in 1604. He established his own workshop and hired Abraham Leerse as an apprentice in 1610. He stayed in Italy in 1613. His paintings show his growing interest in realism, probably due to his exposure to the landscapes of his compatriot Paul Bril who worked in Rome. Returning from his three-year stay in Italy, he returned and collaborated with Rubens. He then specialized in making backdrops and backgrounds for Rubens or for tapestries. After 1620, he works more on personal works which represent scenes of hunting and countryside and he approaches and is inspired by Jan Brueghel the younger and Paul Bril. He married in 1619 with Maria Stappaert and his two sons Jean Baptiste (1620-37) and Jérémy (1621-53) also became painters. Wildens becomes very prosperous thanks to his professional success. He worked for prestigious patrons and participated, like many other Antwerp artists, in the decorations on the occasion of the Joyous Entry into Antwerp of the new governor of the Dutch Habsburgs, Cardinal-Infant Ferdinand of Austria. Rubens is in charge of this project. Wildens brings two views of the city of Antwerp for the occasion. In the house he inherited from his mother in the Lange Nieuwstraat in Antwerp, he opened a picture gallery containing more than 700 paintings. The gallery was very successful and was later operated by his son Jérémie. When Rubens died in 1640, Wildens was one of his executors. He is the master of his sons Jean Baptiste (1620-37) and Jérémy (1621-53) and of Henri van Balen le Jeune.