Jeroen Giltay, who, on the basis of an old reproduction, formerly doubted this drawing, has now seen it and kindly confirmed the attribution.
The drawing belongs to a series of six other drawings of the ruins of Egmond castle by Ruisdael of comparable format and technique, all depicting these from another angle, in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam; the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin; formerly in the Kunsthalle, Bremen (lost since 1945); the Groninger Museum, Groningen and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (Giltay, op.cit., nos. 1,2,20,27,54 and 98 respectively). Two further drawings, of different format, seem to show ruins inspired by those of Egmond, now in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg (Giltay, op.cit., nos. 67-8). Most have a comparable monogram, which Giltay accepts as autograph. The drawings in the Rijksprentenkabinet, both from the Esdaile Collection, show similar figures around the ruins, while one includes part of the gothic bridge seen in the present lot. The Berlin drawing was sold along with the present lot in the Huldschinsky sale (see Provenance, lot 76, illustrated). Ruisdael used the Stuttgart study in his picture of the Jewish Cemetary with the ruins beyond in the Staatliche Kunstsammlung, Dresden (J. Rosenberg, op.cit., no. 154; S. Slive, H.R. Hoetink, Jacob van Ruisdael, exhibition catalogue, The Hague/Cambridge, Mass., 1981-2, p. 76, no. 21). Another picture with the ruins in is the Chicago Art Institute, Chicago (Slive and Hoetink, op.cit., no. 19). These pictures are generally dated circa 1655-60, and the drawings may be dated to before those years. The group of now seven drawings is topographically accurate, and it may be assumed that these were done on the spot. Ruisdael also painted views of the nearby Egmond aan Zee dated 1646 and 1648, in a Dutch private collection, the Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, and in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, which would confirm that he visited the area in the late 1640s.
The Egmond family is first mentioned in the year 1000. They were among the most powerful families in Holland, and played an important role in its history. Egmond Castle was inhabited by the early 13th Century, probably by Wouter van Egmond (died 1208). It was possibly ruined in 1315, but restored by Jan I van Egmond (died 1369), and extended afterwards. Jan III of Egmond (1438-1516) became Stadholder of Holland in 1486 and was made Count of Egmond by Emperor Maximilian of Austria in Brussels. He further restored and extended the castle, creating what was known as 'the most beautiful castle of Holland' at the time. His descendant Lamoraal van Egmond (1522-1568) was the richest man in Holland after Willem of Orange, and married Sabina of Bavaria, whose portrait was engraved by Goltzius. During the war with Spain, the Spanish occupied the castle, and it was burnt down in 1574 by order of the Prince of Orange to prevent them from using it again. Lamoraal II van Egmond, living there in 1595-1605, restored only parts. The state of the ruin depicted in Ruisdael's drawings is reflected in those of Roelant Roghman (see also lot 91 in this sale), who depicted the ruins in 1646/7 including the tower shown in the present drawing (H.W.M. van der Wyck and J.W. Niemeijer, De Kasteeltekeningen van Roelant Roghman, I, Alphen aan den Rijn, 1989/90, pp. 65-8, nos. 45-8). Decay continued until 1722, when a descendant restored parts of it, but in 1793 the ruins were sold for demolition, and in 1832 the last parts were pulled down. In 1933 the first excavations revealed the fragments which are now still to be seen.