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Forest Scene
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Circle of Gillis van Coninxloo
Flemish, Antwerp, about 1595 - 1610
Brush and gray and white bodycolor on toned black paper
21 1/2 x 16 9/16 in.
87.GG.12

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An unknown artist created this haunting scene filled with a maze of paths and aged, gnarled trees casting looming shadows. By using black paper and showing the forest at night, he accentuated nature's drama. Moonlight glints off twisted roots and leaves, piercing into the groves in the distance, partially illuminating but never fully revealing what is taking place. Humans appear only in the background, framed by the twisted tree trunks: two tiny figures making their way to the moated fortress at the left. The drawing's large scale and the artist's use of grisaille make it rare among the relatively common Dutch and Flemish drawings rendered in colored wash around 1600. At this time, some artists began to depict the forest as a place of mystery. Gillis van Coninxloo and his followers, known for their close-up views of nature, were among this group.