Cuyp. The name of a family of Dutch painters of Dordrecht, of which three members gained distinction.
Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp (1594-1651/2) was the son of a glass painter and a pupil of Abraham Bloemaert at Utrecht. He is thought of today mainly as a portrait painter--his portraits of children are particularly fine--but in old biographies is lauded principally for his views of the countryside around Dordrecht.
Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp (1612-52) was the half-brother of Jacob. He is noted principally for paintings of biblical and genre scenes which use Rembrandtesque light and shadow effects.
Aelbert Cuyp (1620-91) is the most famous member of the family and now one of the most celebrated of all landscape painters, although he also painted many other subjects. He was the son and probably the pupil of Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp. His early works also show the influence of Jan van Goyen.
Aelbert was born and died at Dordrecht, but he seems to have travelled along Holland's great rivers to the eastern part of the Netherlands, and he also painted views of Westphalia. A prodigious number of pictures are ascribed to him, but his oeuvre poses many problems. He often signed his paintings but rarely dated them, and a satisfactory chronology has never been established. Although he had little influence outside Dordrecht, Cuyp had several imitators there, and some of the paintings formerly attributed to him are now given to Abraham Calraet (1642-1722), who signed himself `AC' (the same initials as Cuyp).
In 1658 Cuyp married a rich widow, and in the 1660s he seems to have virtually abandoned painting. He was almost forgotten for two generations after his death. Late 18th-century English collectors are credited with rediscovering his merits, and he is still much better represented in English collections, public and private, than in Dutch museums. His finest works--typically river scenes and landscapes with placid, dignified-looking cows--show great serenity and masterly handling of glowing light (usually Cuyp favored the effects of the early morning or evening sun). He approaches Claude more closely in spirit than any of his countrymen who travelled to Italy.
Photographs by Carol Gerten-Jackson.
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