Jongkind's painting, titled 'Vue de Maassluis, Pays Bas', shows just how small Maassluis was around 1840. It only existed of around 400 houses.
The perspective in this painting is exceptional, especially when you consider that there were no airplanes yet at the time. This type of view could only be seen from a church tower or windmill. This shows that Jongkind had a true artist eye to capture the exceptional.
A glance of Maassluis in the 1800's
In the distance on the right, we can see the corn mill 'De Arend' at the end of the Noorddijk, which burned down in 1922.
Also on the right, we see the tower of the Protestant church on what is now the Hoogstraat, which was demolished in 1966 to make room for new homes in 1985.
If we continue along the same horizontal line to the left, we see the flagpoles of the herring and salmon fleets, which provided the main income for the inhabitants of Maassluis at that time.
Jongkind himself wrote on the back of this painting in his perpetual deficient French:
'Vue de Maassluis, Pays Bas, desiner d'après nature sur le balustrade du moulin de son ami Wildt par Jongkind en Avril 1841 et peint á Paris en 1871.'
Translated, it reads: 'Drawn after nature (i.e. plein-air) on the transom of the mill of his friend de Wildt by Jongkind in April 1841 and painted in Paris in 1871.
From great heights
In 1871 it had been two years since Jongkind had last been to the Netherlands. There had been a war in Paris due to which he moved away from Paris to stay in Nevers, France, where it was safe. During that Franco-German War of 1870-71, after the siege of Paris, the French left the city with balloons. This was hot news at the time. Perhaps this was the reason to pick up this early sketch, with a view from above, and develop it further into a painting in France...
Friendships for life
After Johan Barthold Jongkind's return from Nevers to his home in Paris, he received many visitors, including his friend and famous artist Cézanne. His colleague painter and study buddy from The Hague Charles Rochussen, and his old neighbour in Vlaardingen, Arij Pleijsier also visited him many times while Jongkind lived in France. It is unknown whether his three year older friend and miller Fredrik de Wildt also visited him in Paris, but it is certain that they remained in contact during their entire lives.