The area around Haarlem, Leiden and The Hague was famous for its vast dune landscapes. People even came from bustling Amsterdam in search of rest, diversion and spectacular views. A horseman has come to a halt in Jan van Goyen’s dune. Like many of his fellow painters, van Goyen liked to depict his native countryside. This painting represents a turning point within his oeuvre: beginning in 1629, he reduced his palette increasingly. The earth tones of ochre and brown, along with a little green, sufficed for the painterly effects he wanted to achieve.
When she married the Frankfurt citizen Franz Brentano in about 1800, noblewoman Antonia Josepha Edle von Birckenstock brought with her the famous art collection of her aristocratic father, Johann Melchior Ritter und Edler von Birckenstock. The Brentano-Birckenstock collection became one of the largest private art galleries in Frankfurt. Their daughter Josephine Brentano (1804-1879) married the Frankfurt merchant and chairman of the civic assembly Anton Theodor Brentano-Toccia (1809-1895). In 1870 the Städel acquired by auction some famous paintings from the Brentano-Birckenstock collection. This was followed in 1895 by an extensive donation. According to the inventory of art objects drawn up at the time, the small-format Baroque paintings mostly hung in the dining room of the Brentanos.