Arcadia Unbound: Early Dutch Landscape Prints and the Amenissimae aliquot regiunculae of 1616 by Jan van de Velde II

Fig. 1. Esaias van de Velde (attributed to), Arcadian Landscape (early 17th century), woodcut on blue paper, unique impression of the first state, 18 x 25 cm. Collection of the New York Public Library. Photo: Robert Fucci.

Fig. 1. Esaias van de Velde (attributed to), Arcadian Landscape (early 17th century), woodcut on blue paper, unique impression of the first state, 18 x 25 cm. Collection of the New York Public Library. Photo: Robert Fucci.

The theme of Arcadia in 17th-century Dutch printmaking is inextricably linked to the rise of a naturalistic landscape tradition in the newly independent Northern Netherlands; or, to put it more accurately, a naturalistic mode of landscape that pointedly and convincingly depicted local environs, rural byways and their native inhabitants. The town of Haarlem has long been recognized as an epicenter for this explosion of regionally derived landscape imagery in the second decade of the 17th century. The artists who pioneered the genre, such as Willem Buytewech, Esaias van de Velde, Hercules Segers and Jan van de Velde II, worked in the city, which had already become a renowned center of print production.1 Significantly, the early Dutch landscape pioneers chose etching as the medium for a large number of their most original conceptions.

Become a subscriber to Art in Print to continue reading.

Subscriptions start at just $38 and include instant access to our digital archive.

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page


  1. For the history of Dutch landscape prints and Haarlem’s role, significant works include: Huigen Leeflang, “Dutch Landscape: The Urban View. Haarlem and Its Environs in Literature and Art, 15th–17th Century,” Nederlands Kunsthistorische Jaarboek 48 (1997): 52–115; Catherine Levesque, Journey Through Landscape in 17th-Century Holland: The Haarlem Print Series and Dutch Identity (Penn State University Press, 1994); Ger Luijten et al., Dawn of the Golden Age: Northern Netherlandish Art 1580–1620 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 1993); Boudewijn Bakker & Huigen Leeflang, Nederland naar ’t leven: Landscapsprenten uit de Gouden Eeuw (Zwolle: Waanders, 1993) and David Freedberg, Dutch Landscape Prints of the 17th Century (London: British Museum, 1980). For important recent studies of Dutch landscape generally, see Boudewijn Bakker, Landscape and Religion from Van Eyck to Rembrandt (London: Ashgate, 2012); and Walter S. Gibson, Pleasant Places: The Rustic Landscape from Bruegel to Ruisdael (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). []