For long regarded as an autograph work by Jacob van Ruisdael, this picture is stylistically consistent with Ruisdael's earlier output in Haarlem from the late 1640s and '50s - compare for instance the Wooded Landscape sold in these Rooms, 9 December 1988, lot 98 (£360,000). Whilst it is almost certain that the present landscape was executed in Haarlem at around that time, the traditional attribution to Ruisdael has recently been called into question and rejected, on the basis of photographs, by Marijke de Kinkelder of the RKD (written communication). Nevertheless it is well preserved and demonstrates many of the elements normally associated with Ruisdael's most characteristic work, for example the blasted tree in the foreground, the central recession into space and the blustery sky.
This picture was part of the collection of Alexander Beresford-Hope, M.P., at Bedgebury Park, Kent. Beresford-Hope had inherited the house from his stepfather, Field-Marshall Lord Beresford, but much of the art collection had come through inheritance from his uncle, Henry Hope (d. 1839) - who had formed a notable collection of Dutch and Flemish pictures and himself died at Bedgebury - and his brother, Adrian Hope (d. 1863). Beresford-Hope was himself a collector - he was the son of the celebrated connoisseur and writer Thomas Hope of The Deepdene - but his personal taste veered more towards the Gothic, making an earlier provenance within his family more probable.