Salomon van Ruysdael Naarden 1600/3-1670 Haarlem
Salomon van Ruysdael Naarden 1600/3-1670 Haarlem

Ferry Boat with cattle on the River Vecht near Nijenrode

Salomon van Ruysdael Naarden 1600/3-1670 Haarlem
Ferry Boat with cattle on the River Vecht near Nijenrode
signed and dated 'S.v.Ruysdael 1649' (on the ferry)
Oil on panel
22 7/8 x 33 in. 58 x 84 cm.
D. von Raumer, Berlin.
with Dr. C. Benedict, Paris.
with Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1932.
Looted by the Nazi authorities, July 1940.
Recovered by the Allies, 1945.
in the custody of the Dutch Government.
Restituted in February 2006 to the heir of Jacques Goudstikker.
A. Heppner, Die Internationale Kunstwelt, February 1936, p. 32.
Hennus, Beeldende Kunst, February 1936, p. 59.
W. Stechow, Salomon van Ruysdael, Berlin, 1975, p. 104, no. 355, pl. 25.
Exhibition Catalogue, Landskaber fra Hollands guldalder, Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet, 13 October-28 November 1976, p. 18, no. 29, illustrated; Göteborgs, Konstmuseum, 4 December-23 January 1977.
Old master paintings: An illustrated summary catalogue, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst (The Netherlandish Office for the Fine Arts), The Hague, 1992, p. 261, no. 2275, illustrated.
Rotterdam, Rotterdamsche Kunstkring, December 1936 - January 1937, no. 26, illustrated.
Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan, Landscapes from the Golden Age, May-June 1972, no. 26, illustrated.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Het Holandse 17de centuryse landschap, October-Novemeber 1972, no. 26, illustrated.
Göteborg, Göteborgs Kunstmuseum, Landskaber fra Hollands Guldalder
Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet, Landskaber fra Hollands guldalder, 13 October-28 November 1976; Göteborgs, Konstmuseum, 4 December-23 January 1977.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Tussen fantasie en werkelijkheid, March-June 1992, pp. 94 and 175, no. 38, illustrated.
werken, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, on loan.

Lot Essay

The theme of the ferryboat is one that Salomon van Ruysdael painted many times during the course of his career. His earliest depiction of the subject, River landscape (National Gallery, London), is dated 1631 and he painted such scenes throughout the 1640s and into the 1650s. Many of these works are made up of the same compositional elements: the boatmen pushing off of a bank at the left or right, the cows variously lowing or drinking from the river, and a view of a town, sometimes identifiable, in the distance. While very few of his paintings feel formulaic, which is a testament to his ongoing interest in the subject, few are as visually stunning as Ferry boat with cattle on the Vecht near Nijenrode. Everything from the light and atmosphere to the trees against the sky and the reflections in the water are handled with care and consummate skill. Details such as the bulk of the cows weighing down the ferry and their reflections fragmented in the moving water below suggest first-hand observation of such scenes though no drawings by Ruysdael have survived. While Ferry boat with cattle on the Vecht near Nijenrode belongs to his later career, after his experiments with a muted palette in the 1630s when his use of color became more prominent, no patches of color lead the eye to the figures in the boat or to a particular area on land as in his painting of the same subject in Madrid (Collection Thyssen-Bornemisza). With this painting in 1649 Salomon has returned to the aesthetic of his youth.

The river crossing takes place just outside of Nijenrode and reflects a system of transport that carried people and goods through a landscape dominated by water. Many of Ruysdael's subjects reflect his interest in the relationship between city and country life and of travel between them. As with this painting, however, he explored the transitions almost exclusively from outside the city, where water, woodland, and sky dominate the view. Salomon was known for this kind of painting as early as 1628, when Samuel van Ampzing mentioned him in his Beschryvinge ende lof der stad Haerlem (Description and praise of the town of Haarlem). While there is no documentary evidence of his travels, the range of his views suggests a familiarity either with the towns themselves or with topographical views of them. In addition to Nijenrode, Ruysdael depicted Alkmaar, Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Arnhem, Deventer, Dordrecht, The Hague, Haarlem, Leiden, Naarden, Rhenen, Scheveningen, Utrecht, and, on one occasion, Brussels. He seems to have been particularly fond of Nijenrode as at least three other views of it are known (Aschaffenburg, Madrid, Rome).

This painting must have had particular significance for Jacques Goudstikker as he bought Nijenrode Castle in 1930. Ferry boat with cattle on the Vecht near Nijenrode stayed in his collection from 1932 to 1940. Nijenrode castle was first built in 1270 and centuries of both building campaigns and political upheavals had already left their mark on it when Ruysdael painted it in 1649. It was ambushed by Bishop Willem van Mechelen in 1311 and in 1481, during the upheavals against Burgundian rule, it was plundered and burned by the citizens of Utrecht. The house was restored after a second citizen attack in 1510 when Bernard van den Bongard took possession of it. The castle remained in his family for at least three generations. The French used it as their head quarters during their invasion of Amsterdam in 1672 and, upon their retreat the following year; the castle was looted and burned by Swiss mercenaries that had been left behind. Johan Ortt bought Castle Nijenrode in 1675 and it remained in the Ortt family until the 1780s. A further campaign of restoration was undertaken in 1907 by the coffee merchant, Michiel Onnes, and Jacques Goudstikker bought it in 1930, adding it to his residences in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, Oostermeer, and Amsterdam. As with Goudstikker's collection, Castle Nijenrode fell into German hands during the war using it first as a military and later an administrative center. It was restituted in 1950 to Jacques Goudstikker's widow, Desirée Goudstikker-Halban, who then sold it to the Stichting Nederlands Opleidings-Instituut voor het Buitenland. It is still used as an educational institution today.

Ruysdael's works had an enormous impact on the tradition of landscape painting in Haarlem, and, in many ways, have come to represent the genre itself. Indeed, Ferry boat with cattle on the Vecht near Nijenrode encompasses all that lovers of Dutch landscape admire about the tradition: the ease of the subject matter, the scene's naturalistic appearance, and the attention to the effects of light and weather. Together with Pieter Molijn (1595-1661) and Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Ruysdael revolutionized Dutch landscape painting with scenes such as this.

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