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Jakob Harris: 1837 - 1899
Jakob Maris was born in The Hague in 1837, the son of a poor printer. His two younger brothers, Matthijs and Willem, also became painters but Jakob is generally considered to be the strongest of the three. At 21 he was apprenticed to the painter Johann Anthonis Stroebel and he later attended the Academies at The Hague and Antwerp. From 1865 to 1871 he lived in Paris.
Throughout the 1860's Maris's paintings were almost entirely sentimental in character, as demonstrated in The Shepherdess, in 1868. However, the work he saw in Paris of the Barbizon School made a deep and lasting impression on him. In 1870 he painted The Ferryboat, thus indicating his change of interest from figure to landscape painting. After his return to The Hague in 1871 he quickly developed a style of landscapes and town views for which he became widely known. The View of Dordrecht is a typical work, with its large expanse of cloudy sky above the low, horizontal band of houses and water.
While in his earlier works color tended to be dark and of little importance, following his stay in Paris he gradually changed to a palette of lighter and clearer tones with which he often achieved remarkable quality. In addition to his town and coastal views Maris painted mildly social realist subjects, such as Plow and Horses, 1880, showing the Dutch peasantry at work on the land.
Over the years Maris attained a leading position in the Hague school. This group of artists was much admired by the young Vincent van Gogh; he met and helped Maris while working in the Paris branch of Goupil's gallery, and Maris' name is mentioned several times in letters to Rappard during the 1880's. Later too, when he came to paint The Drawbridge, van Gogh evidently remembered and was influenced by Maris' painting of the same subject.