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 Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp  (1620 - 1691)

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Lived/Active: Netherlands      Known for: rural landscape, genre and marine painting, drawing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

One of the best known of the 17th-Century Dutch landscape painters, Aelbert Cuyp especially focused on panoramic late evening or early morning countryside scenes with much emphasis on atmospherics and bright lighting juxtaposed with darkness.  Often placid looking cattle were depicted in these landscapes, and the overall mood was calm and serene. 

He is credited as having superior drawing skills, and frequently he used the same drawing in parts of several paintings.  He was also noted for using quality paint and rich varnishes.   Other subjects were marine and upper-class genre scenes.  It is thought that many of his paintings came from extensive travel around the rivers of Holland, and he also painted in Westphalia.

His finished landscape were usually a combination of reality and imagination.  He was very prolific, although it is thought that many works are attributed to him that belong to lesser-known artists who copied his style.  Paintings of Abraham Calraet (1642-1722) are often signed with the initials A.C., and have been mistakenly linked to Aelbert Cuyp.  A problem with Cuyp is that, although he completed many paintings, he did not date them, so developing a chronology of his career has not been possible.

Cuyp was born in Dordrecht, Holland to a family of painters of which he remains the most famous.  His father was Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp (1594-1651/52), a portrait and landscape painter, with whom Aelbert likely studied.  His uncle was Benjamin Gerritsz Cuyp (1612-1652), a painter of Biblical and genre scenes in the style of Rembrandt.

Cuyp married a wealthy widow in 1658, and several years later appears to have given up painting.  His name seems to have been forgotten by scholars, but in the late 18th century, English collectors rediscovered his paintings.   Thus, most of his work is held in England.


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