Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9-1682 Amsterdam)
Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9-1682 Amsterdam)

A woodland pool

Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628/9-1682 Amsterdam)
A woodland pool
signed and indistinctly dated 'J Ruysdael 166[?]' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 ½ x 22 1/8 in. (47 x 56.3 cm.)
M. van der Pots, Rotterdam.
Rev. John Clowes (1777-1846), Manchester, by 1835, and by inheritance to his brother,
Colonel William Legh Clowes (1791-1862), and by descent to his grandson,
Colonel Henry Arthur Clowes (1867-1916), Norbury, Ashbourne, Derbyshire; (†) Christie’s, London, 17 February 1950, lot 49 (3,200 gns.), when acquired by his son,
Colonel Legh Algernon Clowes, and by descent to the present owner.
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French painters, London, 1835, VI, p. 53, no. 169, as 'an excellent picture'.
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch painters of the seventeenth century, London, 1912, IV, p. 174, no. 548.
W. Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century, London, 1966, p. 200, footnote 41.
S. Slive and H.R. Hoetink, Jacob van Ruisdael, exhibition catalogue, The Hague, 1981, p. 108, fig. 51.
E.J. Walford, Jacob van Ruisdael and the Perception of Landscape, London and New Haven, 1991, p. 224, footnote 24.
S. Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, London and New Haven, 2001, p. 298, no. 393, fig. 393.

London, Christie's; and Manchester, Whitworth, Treasures of the North: An exhibition to benefit the Christie Hospital, Manchester, 2000, no. 38.

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Lot Essay

Praised as ‘an excellent picture’ by John Smith in 1835 (op. cit.), this painting is the only existing wooded landscape that bears a date in the 1660s. Although the last digit of the date is now illegible, a copy dated 1664 by Jan van Kessel of an untraced Ruisdael wooded scene that belongs to the same group helps secure a place for these landscapes around the middle of the decade. This painting has in turn become central to dating other similar works by the artist. Ruisdael developed his wood and forest landscapes during the 1650s and 1660s, liberating himself from the spatially confined compositions he had painted in the 1640s by introducing clearings and more open vistas, often anchored by a single monumental element, typically a large tree. Ruisdael’s technique displays astonishing range in rendering different textures and surfaces. The light, feathery treatment of the foliage and grasses, combined with the fluid, painterly execution of the towering sky and billowing clouds are characteristic of Ruisdael’s artistic maturity and demonstrate his acute powers of observation.

The still lily-pond, which extends across the foreground of the painting, is similar to the pool in Ruisdael’s Lily Pond in an oak wood, which is datable to the second half of the 1660s (Berlin, Staatliche Museen). This work likewise employs a darker palette in the foreground, with lighter passages in the water in the middle-ground, as a means of creating a sense of recession and distance. The monumental tree, which provides the central focus of the picture, can be related to Ruisdael’s famed The Great Oak of 1652 (Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum), which is considered a crucial transitional work in Ruisdael’s development of his wooded landscape compositions, in which the painter established motifs that he would continue to utilise and perfect over the subsequent decades.

The Rev. John Clowes had succeeded to his family’s estates on the death of his elder brother in 1811, and built up a substantial collection of Dutch and Flemish pictures. John Smith evidently visited him in Manchester and recorded some of the collection in his Catalogue Raisonné. As Clowes does not appear in Smith’s account books, he must have made purchases elsewhere. The fullest record of the collection is the catalogue of the Col. Clowes’ executors’ sale, 17 February 1950, lots 1-64, at which his son, Major H.S.L. Clowes, left bids or bid in person on 48 lots, securing 34 of these.

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