Jacob de Villeers (1616–1667)
Panoramic landscape with a fortified town
Oil on canvas
36 by 45.3 inches (91.5 by 115 cm.)
Private collection, Vienna
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt Schüler, Vol. VI, Landau 1983, cat.no. 2474, p. 4094
Little is known about Jacob de Villeers. He was born in Leiden in 1616 but was active in Rotterdam from 1641 on, where he remained until his death in 1667. It has been suggested that he was a student of Rembrandt in the 1640s, although there is no evidence to support this. The only confirmed link to Rembrandt is his father-in-law, the younger Abraham Furnerius (1628-1654), himself a Rembrandt pupil and whose daughter Elisabeth he married in 1641.
Clearly indebted to Rembrandt but especially to Hercules Segers (1589-1638), Villeers’ mountainous compositions and his treatment of light show great resemblance to the landscapes of his predecessor. Trough Furnerius and Rembrandt, Villeers must have been aware of the rare landscapes by Seghers. The treatment of the mountain on the right side of the picture enhances the monumentality of the whole composition as well as combining the steep hill with relatively flat land, certainly reveals an awareness of his predecessor.
 N. Schadee, a.o., Rotterdamse Meesters uit de Gouden Eeuw, Rotterdam/Zwolle 1994, p. 305