Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Ink on paper laid down on a paper mount
  • 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ inches · 149 × 195 mm
  • Inscribed with title on mount
    Collector’s mark ‘E. Blum’, lower right
    Drawn c. 1665
  • Sold

Collections

  • E. Blum;
  • Private collection, Connecticut, to 2018

Esselens was an amateur Dutch landscape painter and silk merchant whose business led him to visit Italy, France, England and Scotland. Many of his panoramic views of English towns dating from the 1660s were included in the Atlas van der Hem, now at the National Library in Vienna. This is a forty-six volume extra-illustrated edition of Johannes Blaeu's Atlas Maior (1662), enhanced with more than two thousand maps, prints and drawings by the Amsterdam lawyer, Laurens van der Hem (1621-78). As well as Esselen's drawings, the atlas contains English landscapes by Willem Schellinks  and Lambert Doomer.[1]

This is a view of the town from Playden Cliff. The church of St Mary is at the top of the hill in the centre of town, and the Ypres Tower is prominent in the lower foreground. Esselens adopted the same vantage point in one of his two drawings of Rye in the Atlas van der Hem; another version of one of these is in the Fitzwilliam Museum.[2] The present drawing, though, is concerned with a precise description of the townscape, whereas in the atlas and Fitzwilliam drawings Esselens is more interested in the town's setting of hills and sea. Rye was a point of disembarkation for travellers arriving from northern Europe. Already in the early sixteenth century French, Dutch Flemish and other Europeans  inhabitants are recorded in the parish records and in 1582 more than fifteen hundred French refugees were living there.[3] It was natural, therefore, for artists newly arrived in England to sketch the town, especially as the journey to London, though only thirty miles, took a further ten or more hours even in the 1680s.[4] As well as Esselens's drawings of Rye, Schellink drew the town for the Atlas van der Hem, and Van Dyck's drawing, which is close in spirit to the drawing here, is dated 27 August 1633.[5]

References

  1. Paul Hulton, 'Drawings of England in the Seventeenth Century by Willem Schellinks, Jacob Esselens & Lambert Doomer from the Van der Hem Atlas of the National Library, Vienna', Walpole Society, 1954-6, vol 35.
  2. Paul Hulton, 'Drawings of England in the Seventeenth Century by Willem Schellinks, Jacob Esselens & Lambert Doomer from the Van der Hem Atlas of the National Library, Vienna', Walpole Society, 1954-6, vol 35.nos 37-8.
  3. William Holloway, The History and Antiquities of the Ancient Town and Port of Rye, London, 1847, pp.474-5.
  4. William Holloway, The History and Antiquities of the Ancient Town and Port of Rye, London, 1847, p.457.
  5. Paul Hulton, 'Drawings of England in the Seventeenth Century by Willem Schellinks, Jacob Esselens & Lambert Doomer from the Van der Hem Atlas of the National Library, Vienna', Walpole Society, 1954-6, vol 35, no.39.