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Versteeg, Michiel (Dutch, b.1756, d.1843), Artist
oil on panel
595 x 762 mm panel size; 785 x 950 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 2003 by the estate of Ivor Trevena Idris through Richard Deeble.
A more descriptive title to this exceptional painting by Versteeg might be Figures in a Storm, relating the subject to the notion of the Sublime popular at the end of the 18th century. Natural forces are shown as infinitely more powerful than the puny activities of man and beast, and display the omnipotent will of a fickle God. This is not a typical work by Versteeg, who was born in 1756 in the Dutch city of Dordrecht, where he died in 1843. He is best known for his tenebrist works, where a modest domestic subject is dramatically illuminated by candlelight or a lamp placed near the centre of the picture. It was for this type of painting that Versteeg was eventually elevated to membership of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands and the Antwerp Academy. His tenebrist paintings can be seen in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam as well as Lille and Rotterdam.
As a young man, between about 1770 and 1780, he made a few spectacular landscapes that demonstrated a quite unusual feeling for colour and the drama of the Sublime. These works emit an intense brilliance, demonstrating a skilled use of oil paint. It is possible that the best of these is the work in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery collection.

not on view

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