Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


DIRK LANGENDIJK (Rotterdam 1748 – Rotterdam 1805)

The Windmill Spaarne en Wind on Fire at the Zuider-Buiten Spaarne near Haarlem, with a Crowd of Spectators Looking On

Signed verso D:Langendijk

brush in grey and black ink, grey wash, brown ink framing lines

4 ¼ x 6 ¾ inches          (10.7 x 17.2 cm.)

Dirk Langendijk was mainly active as a draughtsman, and to a lesser extent also worked as a painter and etcher. He was taught by Dirck Anthonie Bisschop (1708-58), an interior decorator and a painter of coats of arms and coaches. Langendijk was a productive artist, depicting primarily military scenes, a subject he took up already in the beginning of his career, as is clear from his early etchings of horses and soldiers (1769-77). Later on, Langendijk drew his main inspiration from the Dutch conflict between the Patriots and Orangeists (c. 1780 - c. 1800) and from the invasions of the Dutch Republic by the French and Anglo-Russian armies in 1795 and 1799 respectively.

Dated paintings by Langendijk are known only from the period of 1771-72 to 1780; these illustrate the life of the landed gentry and of soldiers, as in The Encampment: A Group of Soldiers Attending to their Horses (1774, Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen).[1] In marked contrast to the other great Dutch chroniqueur from the eighteenth century, Cornelis Troost (1696-1750), Langendijk always concentrated on crowds and seldom on individuals, depicting the interactions of groups of officers and soldiers before and during battle, often just by drawing with the brush, leaving pencil and pen aside. Especially his very detailed rendering of equestrian combat scenes inspired great admiration during the artist’s own lifetime.

The present sheet offers a fairly rare example of the artist depicting a strictly civil occurrence. The drawing represents the windmill Spaarn en Wind, located just outside the city of Haarlem on the Zuider-Buiten Spaarne, during the spectacular fire in the year 1776, when the edifice was destroyed entirely. A crowd of spectators watches the event, while several men cross the river to offer their aid in quenching the fire. Several other artists have depicted this windmill, such as Jan ten Compe (1713-1761) in a painting dated 1750, showing the edifice in all its former glory;[2] and Cornelis van Noorde (1731-1795) in a sketch made after the fire, drawing the windmill in its decrepit state shortly before it was dismantled.[3] The present drawing by Langendijk, however, is the only known representation of the actual fire as it took place.

We are grateful to Mr. Leo van der Drift for his help in identifying the windmill represented in this drawing.



[1] M.E. Deelen et al., Dirk Langendijk (1748-1805): tekenaar tussen kruitdamp en vaderlands gevoel, Rotterdam, 1982, p. 15, fig. 9.

[2] C. Dumas, L. Endedijk, Meesters en Molens, Van Rembrandt tot Mondriaan, Zwolle, 2007, p. 110, no. 62.

[3] Op. cit. note 2, p. 128, no. 76a.


Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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