Dirk Langendijk

A battle scene

Dirk Langendijk was born in Rotterdam in 1748. He was taught by Dirck Anthonie Bisschop, who mostly painted interiors, coats of arms and coaches. Langendijk soon far surpassed his master and specialized early on in depictions of land and sea battles and other military scenes from the Dutch Patriot Period (1780 – 87) and the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars (from 1792). He almost never painted individual portraits, almost exclusively depicting groups, especially soldiers, officers, and horses. He was much admired in his day for his depictions of horses in battle.

Although Langendijk also painted, he is nowadays much more admired for his qualities as a draughtsman and etcher. (His dated paintings only date from the period 1771 – 80.) It is probable that the artist witnessed some of the scenes he depicted first-hand, as the watercolour he made of the landing at Callantsoog in 1799 (now in the National Maritime Museum, London) is inscribed ‘ad vivum 1799’ (‘from life 1799’). Dirk Langendijk was married, but unhappily so, seeking solace in alcohol and drugs. He died at a relatively early age in 1805.

The present work, dynamic and full of life with its many intricate details, is a testament to the excellent draughtsmanship of the artist. Although small in scale, it evokes the dust, the smoke and the chaos of battle very convincingly.

Artist: Dirk Langendijk (Rotterdam 1748 - 1805)
Medium: pen and ink, brush and washes on laid paper
Dimensions: 110 x 170 mm