Dulwich Picture Gallery II


Jacob van RUISDAEL

Haarlem, 1628/9–Amsterdam, c. 10 March 1682, buried in St Bavo, Haarlem, 14 March 1682
Dutch painter, draughtsman and etcher

Jacob van Ruisdael is often considered the greatest of the Dutch landscape artists, famous for iconic images such as the Windmill near Wijk bij Duurstede [1] and the Jewish cemetery [2], of which several versions exist.

He probably first trained with his father, the frame-maker and artist Isaack de Goyer, who called himself ‘Isaack van Ruisdael’ (1599–1677) or ‘van Ruysdael’ from 1635 onwards. Jacob was also influenced by his uncle, Salomon van Ruysdael (c. 1600/1603–70). His earliest work is dated 1646; his works of the 1640s show the influence of the Haarlem landscapist Cornelis Hendricksz. Vroom (1590/92–1661). In 1648 he entered the Guild of St Luke in Haarlem and from 1649 to 1653 he travelled extensively in the Netherlands (Rhenen) and in what is now western Germany. Nicolaes Berchem (1621/2–83) was a friend, and the two went together to Bentheim, Steinfurt, and other places. In about 1656 or 1657 Ruisdael moved to Amsterdam; he became a citizen in 1659, and remained there until his death. With his most famous pupil, Meindert Hobbema (1638–1709), he journeyed in 1661 through the eastern Dutch provinces and again to western Germany.

Houbraken, writing in 1721, particularly noted Ruisdael’s skill in scenes with waterfalls, commenting that ‘He painted Dutch and foreign landscape views, but especially those in which the water is seen pouring down from one rock to another, and finally with great noise [geruis] (which seems to be a play on his name) down through the valleys [dalen] or spraying out. He could depict water splashing and foaming as it dashed upon the rocks, so naturally, delicately and transparently that it appears to be real.’1

Ruisdael’s pictures are often interpreted as melancholy, which has led him to be characterized as such himself, but there is no proof of that. Walford is perhaps most correct when he commented that ‘Ruisdael was no lonely melancholic, but quite simply heir to a specific tradition […] It was part of the heritage that laid the foundations for the 18th-century notion of the sublime, and the subsequent Romantic attraction to mountains and waterfalls.’2

The figures in Ruisdael’s paintings were provided by a wide range of collaborators, including Berchem, Adriaen van de Velde (1636–72), Philips Wouwerman (1619–68) and Johannes Lingelbach (1622–74).

In the Netherlands Ruisdael had many pupils and followers. The Dulwich collection includes works by or related to some of them. In the following list, the present attributions are followed in brackets by the attributions in the 1813 and 1817 catalogues: Cornelis Gerritsz. Decker (1610/20–78; Ruisdael), Guillam du Bois (1623/5–80; Hobbima), Jan van Kessel (1641–80; Ruisdael), Adriaen Hendricksz. Verboom (1627/8–73) or Jan Vermeer van Haarlem I (1628–91; Hobbima), and Roelof Jansz. van Vries (1630/31–after 1681; Wynants). Ruisdael’s influence eventually became international, and his work was collected and emulated in Germany, France, and Great Britain.3 At Dulwich there is the famous example of the copy of Ruisdael’s Landscape with Windmills near Haarlem that John Constable (1776–1837) made in 1831. Slightly earlier, the art dealer Samuel Woodburn (1786–1853) was so good at imitation that a landscape of his was catalogued at Dulwich as a Ruisdael (DPG150).4

Giltaij 1980; Schmidt 1981; Walford 1991; Bos 1996a; Slive 2001; Van Thiel-Stroman 2006g; Buvelot 2009; Saur, c, 2018, p. 116 (T. van der Molen); Giltaij 2020; Ecartico, no. 6432: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/6432 (June 13, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 68835: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/68835 (June 13, 2017).

Jacob van Ruisdael
Landscape with the mill near Wijk bij Duurstede, c. 1670
canvas, oil paint 83 x 101 cm
lower right : JvRuisdael
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./cat.nr. SK-C-211

Jacob van Ruisdael
Wooded landscape with a view of the Jewish cemetery 'Beth Haim' in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel; with the ruins of Egmond Abbey (St. Adalbert's Abbey) in Egmond-Binnen, mid 1650s
canvas, oil paint 141 x 182,9 cm
lower left : JvRuisdael
Detroit (Michigan), Detroit Institute of Arts, inv./cat.nr. 26.3


1 Hy schilderde inlandsche en buitenlandsche landgezigten, maar inzonderheid zulke, daar men ’t water van d’een op de andere Rots, ziet neder storten, eindelyk met geruis (waar op zyn naam schynt te zinspeelen) in en door de dalen, of laagtens zig verspreid: en wist de sprenkelingen, of het schuimende water door het geweldig geklets op de rotzen, zoo natuurlyk dun en klaardoorschynende te verbeelden, dat het niet anders dan natuurlyk water scheen te wezen: Houbraken, iii, 1721, pp. 65–6, transl. Giltaij 1987, p. 451.

2 Walford 1991, p. 143.

3 For the appreciation of Dutch and Flemish painting in general in Norfolk at the time see Moore 1988.

4 However the German art historian J. D. Passavant recognized Woodburn’s hand: Passavant 1836/1978, i, p. 62. See also Ingamells 2008, p. 124, DPG150.

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