Search the Collections

Pieter Molyn
Nationality: 
dutch
Gender: 
Male
Birth Date: 
1595
Birth Place: 
London
Death Date: 
1661
Death Place: 
Haarlem
Pieter Molyn was an innovative landscape painter, draftsman and etcher in early 17th century Holland. While focusing on the sandy dunes near Haarlem, Molyn’s strong diagonals and subdued tonality influenced the following generation of Dutch landscape painters. Born in London to Flemish parents in 1595, he moved to Haarlem where he is recorded as entering the artists’ Guild of St. Luke in 1616. Eight years later he published his intention to marry Mayken Gerards, joined the Dutch Reformned Church and was listed as a member of the Haarlem Civic Guards. His earliest surviving dated works were created in 1625, paintings and four etchings depicting landscapes (the four etchings are apparently the only ones he created). His 1626 painting Sandy Road (Dune Landscape with Trees and a Wagon) (Brunswice: Herrzog Anton Ulrich Museum) was described by one scholar to be “one of the corner-stones of Dutch landscape painting.” (Stechow, p. 23). The same strong diagonal and contrasting areas of light and shade appear in an etching from the late 1620s in the Museums’ collection, Landscape with a Cottage on a Hill (Hollstein 7), attributed to Cornelis van Kittensteyn (1598-1652) after a design by Molyn. A prolific draftsman, Molyn created over five hundred drawings, most of them finished drawings intended for sale rather than studies for works in other media. Whle his early dated drawings from 1626 were done with pen and ink, most of his drawings are done with black chalk and grey wash. He was very active in the Guild of St. Luke during the 1630s and 1640s, when he held offices as the Dean and a Commissioner of the Guild, and for two years in the late 1630s was the Guld’s alms collector. His artistic output soared from the 1640s; many of his drawings were created in the 1650s. One surprising elelment of his works is that he created two or three drawings of the same design in about twenty-five instances, mostly in 1654 ande 1655, apparently to satisfy the requirements of his customers. Although he created innovative designs in his youth, he stayed with the same themes throughout his career and his later works were described as “decidedly old-fashioned.” (Stechow, p. 26). Molyn was a busy teacher and collaborator. Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681) was a pupil, and Allart van Everdingen (1621-1675) may have been. Molyn collaborated with ter Borch and Frans Hals (ca. 1581-1666), providing landscape backgrounds for their works, while in some cases they and other provided figures for Molyn’s paintings. Molyn was interred in Haarlem’s St. Bavo Church on March 23, 1661. (TNB 8/2012) Selected bibliography: Hans-Ulrich Beck, 'Pieter Molyn and his Duplicate Drawings', Master Drawings vol. 35 (1997), p. 341-366. Stechow, Wolfgang. Dutch landscape painting of the seventeenth century. Pp. 23-28. London: Phaidon, 1966.