Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628-1682 Amsterdam)
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Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628-1682 Amsterdam)

Sailing vessels in a stormy sea, with a jetty to the right

Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1628-1682 Amsterdam)
Sailing vessels in a stormy sea, with a jetty to the right
oil on canvas
16 1/8 x 23 ½ in. (41 x 59.5 cm.)
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Jacob van Ruisdael painted only around thirty marine pictures throughout his career. Though forming only a small group of his larger oeuvre, they were widely praised by contemporaries, and only decades after his death, Arnold Houbraken wrote in his famed De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718-1721), that Ruisdael ‘could also depict the sea, and when he chose, a tempestuous sea with violent waves lashing against rocks and dunes. In this type of painting he was one of the very best’ (S. Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, New Haven and London, 2001, p. 449). This previously unpublished picture shows the painter’s great facility for rendering the crashing waves of a turbulent sea. The painting is part of a small group of Ruisdael’s seascapes which include a jetty, populated with figures, painted in the late 1650s and early 1660s (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; formerly Museum of Art of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev; and City Art Gallery, Manchester).

As so often the case in the rich emblematic and intellectual traditions of Dutch painting, depictions of storms at sea were often imbued with symbolic associations. Such marine paintings were frequently included in genre paintings as a commentary on the protagonists’ state of mind and often too on their affairs of the heart. Likening human emotions to the changeability of the sea became a popular trope, and was also used by poets in the Netherlands like Jan Hermansz. Krul, who published an illustration of Cupid guiding the rudder of a ship in his Minne-beelden of 1640. His accompanying verses furthered this idea, explaining that love, like the sea, might ‘one hour cause hope / the next fear’ through its changeability (P. Sutton (ed.), Love Letters: Dutch Genre Paintings in the Age of Vermeer, exhibition catalogue, Dublin, 2003, pp. 45 and 82).

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