Aelbert Cuyp, Landscape with the Flight into Egypt (circa 1650). Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
For me, summer has always been a time for solitude. Family holidays away on a Greek island, a corner of Spain, or a cobbled Italian port form some of my fondest memories. Days drifted into each other under an amber haze. In his poem, Midsummer, Tobago, Derek Walcott refers to the timeless element of summer, ‘scorched yellow palms from the summer sleeping-house drowsing through August’. I like Walcott’s image of a sleepy house and its aimless existence during a warm August. For those baking summer months, we let our bodies and minds settle into slumber, resting under a haze in complete tranquillity. Equally, Albert Cuyp’s Landscape with the Flight into Egypt creates the same effect. I first saw his work on the back of a postcard in a friend’s bedroom- she explained to me it had been bought in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art during a holiday in 2018.
I was initially taken with the lilac toned sky that stretches over a large proportion of the piece. Having plucked it from her university bedroom bookshelves, I felt myself reminisce over other sunsets and sunrises I have seen whilst on holiday during the summertime. It seemed to have a striking likeness to warm evenings spent in Cornwall as a child. The colours Cuyp marshalled to craft the cool toned sky in his artwork felt calm and full of solitude. Whilst feeling quite nostalgic looking down at the postcard, the large tree in the centre caught my attention. Standing boldly on the right, it evoked memories of how I would play with my friends late into the evening- all running around a tree located in the centre of our local park. Both trees strong and imposing to onlookers. I now have my own postcard of Cuyp’s Landscape with the Flight into Egypt. Whenever I pick it up off my own bookshelf I am taken back to every hazy summer, where all worries and pressures evaporate amid the smell of BBQ’s and Pimms.