In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance landscapes in paintings often served as the decor for biblical scenes, as can be seen in Jan van Scorel’s Bathsheba. However, in the late 16th and especially in the 17th century landscape painting developed into an independent genre. Landscapes from this period constitute a substantial group within the painting collection. This genre encompasses all kinds of specialties, such as the seascape, the cityscape, and the winterscape. The Rijksmuseum boasts spectacular works by Hendrick Avercamp from the latter category. Jan van Goyen, among other artists, made distinctive monochrome landscapes – that is, painted in a single muted tonality. Fifteen panoramic views of Holland by Van Goyen can be found in the collection.
Another strength in the collection is the work of the Dutch Italianates, such as Jan Asselijn and Jan Both, who were inspired by the landscape while traveling in Italy. Followers of this style, for example Aelbert Cuyp, painted their native northern landscape in a golden, southern light. Nothing could be more different than the bright daylight in the paintings by 19th-century Hague School artists, in the collection represented by Hendrik Weissenbruch and Paul Joseph Gabriël, among others.