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Ouwater Isaak
(17481793)

Isaak Ouwater was baptised at the Amstelkerk, Amsterdam on 31st July 1748, though his parents did not bother to get married until 1751. From 1752-54 the family lived in The Hague. Isaaks father, Isaak Snr, was a painter of landscape and still life. Isaak Jnr lived and worked mainly in Amsterdam. In 1772 he married Anna Louisa Charlotte Dorensia; they had six children. Isaak died in 1793 and was buried on 4th March in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

Isaak Ouwater Jnr probably studied initially with his father, but specialized in topographically accurate cityscapes. The only likely teacher of this genre was Jan Ekels I (1724-1781), but there is no evidence that Ouwater studied with him. The genre of topographical cityscapes began to flourish in the second half of the seventeenth century, with artists such as Job (1630-1693) and Gerrit Berkheyde (1638-1698). Jan van der Heyden (1627-1712) took the genre to great heights. In the eighteenth century topographical drawing, such as the watercolours of Jan de Beyer, ousted topographical painting. While most of Ouwaters contemporaries, like Reinier Vinkeles, Jacob Cats and HP Schouten imitated de Beyer, Jan Ekels I and Ouwater continued to a high standard the tradition of the painted cityscape.

The genre came to fruition at the moment when wealthy town-dwellers became proud of the elegant cities that they had created in the seventeenth century. Following the 1648 Peace of Munster, Holland was at the zenith of her power, able to look back on what she had achieved after years of struggle against the Habsburg hegemony. Jan Steens portrait of the so-called Burgomaster of Delft, 1655 (Penrhyn Castle, Wales) brilliantly expresses this sense of pride. By the time that Ouwater had started to paint his views of Amsterdam, Hollands position in Europe had been reduced to a modest one, but pride in the past remained.


Gambia, 2001, View on New Cherch and Town Hall in Amsterdam

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