Trying to pinpoint a location on a painting

Mar 2018
Hey all. Just signed up with you guys. Looks like a wealth of info.

I'm wondering if you can help - I hope this is the right sub forum, I'm sure the Mods will move it if needed :- )

I've got an old painting that's been laying in the loft for some many years. It's nothing valuable, but we are trying to work out what it is a painting of. The architecture doesn't look like it's from U.K. And from my own limited knowledge of english dress, the fashion isn't familiar too.

Can anyone help pinpoint the country of origin of the landscape?
Feb 2017
Devon, UK
Agreed that it's Dutch, probably a nineteenth century genre piece (in spite of the 17th century costumes). Judging from the faded colour I assume it's a print?
Nov 2017
New Jersey, USA
The style looks like a pastiche of Cornelis Droochsloot, especially considering the architecture, layout of the buildings, steeple, and the clothing.

Edit: c.f. especially the painting Village Street
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Forum Staff
May 2013
Albuquerque, NM
The scene depicted is of a Dutch/Flemish landscape. Now, if you want more information you'll probably have to give us more information. Additional questions when identifying old paintings and prints are: Who was the artist, when and where was it created, and what's its estimated value in today's market.

The first thing we want to know is whether it is a painting or print, closely followed by the media and dimensions and ground for paintings. There are a number of different print techniques and most are on paper, but dimensions are still important.

Is your picture on canvas, panel, or paper? If canvas or panel, you probably have a painting. Given the style of the image, the media would most probably be oil. Older pieces are more likely to be on smaller wooden panels. If on canvas, we look at the back to see how the canvas is mounted, and the backs of paintings often contain important clues. If you look at the piece under magnification, we would look at how the paint was applied. Thick or thin? Oil paint loses its brightness after accumulating many years of dust and grime, so how clean is the surface? Find an inconspicuous spot and with a bit of water and a cotton swab, clean a very small bit if in doubt, but your piece should be pretty grimy, and the surface may have a number of small cracks, sorta like a spiders web.

Water based media are the second most common media used in paintings. Water colors have been around for a long time, and were very popular for plain air sketching. During the 18th century water colors came into their own and some very major pieces were produced. Water color renditions tend to be of modest size, usually on thicker paper and the colors of older pieces we expect to have muted color.

Prints, especially older prints will be on paper and magnification of the surface is essential. If the picture is made up of little dots, the means used for photo reproduction the piece may still be a proper antique (100 years), and the value can range from a few pounds to perhaps a few thousand for rare collectibles. Older pieces are more likely etchings or lithographs. Lithograph techniques followed etchings in time, and both are still used today. Classic prints should have an indentation from the weight of the press onto the paper. Photo reproductions don't have that characteristic.

Whether paint or print, writing and stamps on the item help to identify the source of the piece, and the provenance of it. Who owned it and when? Exhibits and galleries often put their stamps and identifying marks/numbers on the piece. With prints the publisher frequently will put most of this along the bottom of the front. Limited edition prints will often be identified by a number. 5 of 1000, for instance, means the fifth impression out of one thousand. Inks tend to fade, so fading of colors is indicative more of a print than a painting. With prints we are interested in the paper. How thick is it? Modern prints from around the turn of the century were increasingly on wood pulp papers that yellow and become brittle, older rag based papers hold up much better. So how yellow and brittle is your piece?

Take your picture out of the frame, give it close examination, and then let us know the results and/or if you have any questions or need more help.
Nov 2017
New Jersey, USA
I want to add to my previous answer. Dave Evans pointed out before that they thought it was probably 19th century, and I agree with this. If I had to guess I’d bet the style of the painting belongs to the generation of romantic Dutch painters who were the early 19th century forerunners of the Hague School, painters such as Barend Cornelis Koekkoek, Bartholomeus van Hove, Hubertus van Hove, Anthonie Waldorp, Johannes Anthonie Balthasar Stroebel, Andreas Schelfhout, and a number of others. This period is characterized by a blend of careful academic study of Dutch Golden Age painters and European romanticism. Painters varied quite a bit in their level originality (the painting you have does not have much originality), with some retaining remarkably high fidelity of style and genre to the painters they studied, often only making minor corrections to what were viewed as aesthetic faults, such as imperfect unity of perspective. You can see this especially in painters such as Bartholomeus van Hove whose The Mauritshuis in The Hague (1825) is a pastiche of Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde’s style, and whose Church Interior (1844) closely resembles the style of Pieter Jansz. Saenredam; and Johannes Anthonie Balthasar Stroebel who was totally obsessed with Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch.

The epicenter of the more academic flavors of this style was at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, where some of the names I mentioned either taught or were students. As I said before, the painting you have, if it is a pastiche, is pretty unoriginal compositionally. Though the general technique looks good enough, the composition is really nowhere near the same quality as the masters of this period. Perhaps it was originally created by a second rate artist who passed through the academy? But at any rate it wouldn’t be possible, at least for me, to give you an answer with any confidence without examining the actual work up close. I mean, heck, it might be by Droochsloot himself. The foliage on the trees certainly makes me wonder.
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