One of the most important early landscapes in the Tate's collection, this view of Henley-on-Thames is one of several the artist made of the subject, the last dated picture being painted in 1698. Such realistic representations of landscape were not prevalent among British artists, and Siberechts's skilful use of light and shadow and meticulous attention to detail reflect his Flemish background. His depiction is not entirely accurate - the view is embellished and the perspective distorted - but it has an appearance of realism and shows recognisable features. The church on the right of the picture still stands.
Sir Thomas Willoughby, 1st Baron Middleton, commissioned from Siberechts prospects of Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire. Over a number of years, he also commissioned from the artist a series of views of various places in England, including a view looking towards Henley-on-Thames, dated 1692. It is not known if Lord Middleton commissioned this picture as well, or if it was painted with a different audience in mind. Its contemplative nature sets it apart from typical commissioned work… (read more)