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Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9-1682 Amsterdam)
Property from a European Private Collection
Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9-1682 Amsterdam)

Hilly dunescape

Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9-1682 Amsterdam)
Hilly dunescape
signed with monogram ‘JvR’ (lower right)
oil on panel
20½ x 26 3/8 in. (52 x 67 cm.)
(Probably) The Rev. John Mayne St. Clare Raymond, of Walter Belchamp Hall, Essex;
Sudbury, Sussex, George Coote & Son, 29 May 1894, lot 265, as ‘John Wouwermans’ (57 gns.). Van Roogen collection, The Netherlands, until 1938, when purchased during the Munich crisis by an English private collector, London. L.D. van Hengel, Arnhem.
S. Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, New Haven and London, 2001, p. 438, no. 625.

Lot Essay

Jacob van Ruisdael was a remarkably precocious artist, already producing highly accomplished paintings in his late teens. There are more than two dozen dated works from 1646 and 1647 that stand testament to a prodigiously talented young painter who already by the age of seventeen had absorbed the influence of his father and uncle (both artists) and developed his own inimitable style. This beautifully observed example belongs to the same early period. Seymour Slive proposed a date of circa 1647-49, comparing it to a similarly composed dated work of 1647 in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

The sand dunes around his native Haarlem proved a constant source of inspiration for the young Ruisdael. In this case, he adopts a low viewpoint to heighten the dramatic effect of the dunes, using a sandy path as a compositional device to lead the eye through the scene to the centrally placed figures breaking the skyline. The picture also demonstrates Ruisdael’s extraordinary skill at rendering light and atmosphere, here managing to capture the essence of a breezy summer’s day by the Dutch coast.

Slive’s judgement was made on the basis of an old photograph of the picture that showed it with several extra trees, shrubs and posts breaking the skyline. Subsequent restoration proved these to be overpainted additions and their removal has been a revelation in establishing this as one of the most successful and poetic early works of the master.

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