Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9-1682 Amsterdam)
An extensive landscape with grain fields, Heemstede beyond
signed 'Ruisdael' (lower centre)
oil on canvas
12 1/8 x 16 ¼ in. (30.8 x 41.4 cm.)
Private collection, Austria.
Private collection, United States.
with Alfred Brod Gallery, London, by 1964.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 30 November 1979, lot 108.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 8 July 1981, lot 32.
with Douwes, London, by 1985.
Hans Peter Wertitsch, Vienna, and by descent to the present owners.
S. Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, New Haven and London, 2001, p. 91, no. 67, illustrated.
London, Alfred Brod Gallery, 25th Exhibition of Old Master Paintings, 1 October-14 November 1964, no. 23.
Vienna, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste, on loan, 2010-2018.

Lot Essay

This atmospheric landscape with billowing clouds and subtly undulating dunes is Ruisdael’s smallest known panoramic view of a Dutch city. The two towers that rise above the trees in the distance have been identified as those of Heemstede Castle. The late medieval castle—situated strategically at the mouth of the Spaarne river and acquired in 1620 by the wealthy merchant Adriaan Pauw, later the influential Grand Pensionary of Holland—was razed in the early nineteenth century; however, its prominent towers are known from a number of seventeenth-century depictions, including a 1667 drawing by the Amsterdam portraitist and landscapist Johannes Leupenius, now in the Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem (fig. 1).

Seymour Slive has dated the painting, one of only two extant views of Heemstede, to the 1670s. Though born in Haarlem, an industrial city only about five kilometers to the north of Heemstede, Ruisdael moved to Amsterdam in the mid-1650s. Rather curiously, it was only in the 1660s, several years after Ruisdael had settled in Amsterdam, that he began to paint in earnest his iconic panoramic views of his native city as well as those of nearby Bloemendaal, Alkmaar and Heemstede. As Slive has noted, of this group the paintings ‘datable to the first half of the 1670s are a summit of his achievement’ (Slive, op. cit., p. 51). As here, the defining features of these works are the more dominant position of the sky, which tends to take up two-thirds or more of the composition, the towering clouds and the more distant and elevated perspective. Ruisdael has also cleverly employed a strikingly diagonal dirt road that bisects the shade-covered scrubby wasteland from the sunlit field with bound sheaves of grain, which together evoke the feeling of a late summer’s day.

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