Molenaer specialised in painting the local population in vivid summer and winter views set outside his native Haarlem. In the 17th century Haarlem was best-known for its beer, its linen and its bleaching fields. The very fields that now attract so many tourists to see the tulip fields were then used for bleaching linen and yarns.
About Klaes Molenaer
Also known as Nicolaes or Claes Molenaer
Haarlem before 1630 – 1676 Haarlem (he was actually buried December 31st 1676).
Painter of the every day outside activities and moments of leisure of the population of the country side and small towns of the Dutch Republic, set in attractive summer and winter landscapes, and in beach scenes; there are also a few real genre scenes known by him.
Klaes Molenaer’s winter landscapes served as an example for many Romantic,19th century Dutch, German and Belgian painters who endlessly ruminated his art.
His earliest dated painting is from 1644.
He became a member of the Painter's Guild of Saint Luke of Haarlem in 1651.
He was influenced by other painters from Haarlem: Jan van Goyen, Salomon and Jacob van Ruisdael and by Isaac van Ostade.
He is said to have been a nephew of those other Molenaer painters of Haarlem, Bartholomeus and Jan Miense. Those brothers both painted genre scenes. Klaes may have worked together with Jan Miense on occasion.
Klaes Molenaer strongly influenced Thomas Heeremans, whom dated works are known by between 1675 and 1692. Heeremans also specialised in summer and winter landscapes.
About our painting
Haarlem is situated some 20 km W. of Amsterdam. The city attracted many Flemish Protestant immigrants in the late 16th century. They applied their know-how in the local linen, beer and bleaching industries.
“Haarlem bleach” stood from the late 16th until the early 19th century epithetic for the best quality of bleaching yarns and linen fabrics. Haarlem and its region was ideally suited for bleaching; it provided the poor grounds of the dunes, clear spring water and buttermilk. On flattened sand dunes and grasslands linen was stretched to dry and bleach by the simple exposure to sunlight and oxygen.
The closest bleaching grounds were situated near the villages of Bloemendaal, Overveen and Heemstede, but they stretched much further, for about 50 kilometers, N. in the direction of Alkmaar and S. towards Leiden.
The best-known bleacheries close to Haarlem were those owned by Lucas de Clerq, SW of Haarlem and those near the village of Bloemendaal owned by Michiel de Wael. Both men were portrayed by Frans Hals: de Clercq in a portrait of 1635 (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) and de Wael in his Banquet of the Officers of the St George Civic Guard, circa 1627 (Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem).
Bleacheries became a favourite subject of Klaes Molenaer and later, about 1670/1675, also of Jacob van Ruisdael, who painted at least fifteen of these “Haarlempjes”. Molenaer’s viewpoint is low, his approach anecdotic. Ruisdael’s viewpoint is much higher, panoramic, with a huge, towering clouded sky and gradations of alternating bands of light and shadow.
Samuel Ampzing (1590 – 1632) in his description of his native Haarlem (1628), tells how visitors made special trips around Haarlem to see the wondrous sight of bleacheries. The same region attracts today numerous tourists looking at its tulip fields.
The sand of the dunes around Haarlem vanished during the 17th and 18th century. It was used for the expansion of Amsterdam. The bleaching industry disappeared with the invention of chemical products in the early 19th century.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a nice, fully signed, anecdotic view of a landscape and an industry that no longer exist around Haarlem.