Jacob Isaaksz van Ruisdael


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Author: Jacob Isaaksz van Ruisdael
Landscape, Painting, Oil on canvas, 72.5x99 cm
Origin: Holland, 1660s

Ruysdael was to become famous for his philosophical approach to nature, which he saw as a symbol of eternity. In this work he unfolds before the viewer a large, grandiose severe scene in which thick, powerful trees seek to balance their twisting trunks on small tussocks surrounded on all sides by swamp and marshes. Water, the source of life, here threatens to swallow everything in its quagmire. The young birch tree seems weak, the last strength of the dying beech is departing. And yet the burgeoning green leaves, the unusual force with which everything grows, forging its way upwards towards the light, gives hope. In the distance is the pure line of the horizon, towards which some lost traveller seems to be trudging in search of firm ground.

In generalising this majestic and tragic picture of existence, Ruysdael differentiates each detail and lingers on it, conveying the gentleness of the flowering water-lilies, reflecting the trees in the water, capturing the fright of the birds as they fly upwards. The leaves are lit by the warm colours of autumn and the dark earthy-olive tones gradually dissolve in the light of the bluish distance.

A philosopher artist, Ruysdael comprehended the essence of the laws of existence and created a new kind of philosophical landscape, opening the way for the late romantics.

Source of entry: Provenance: between 1763 and 1774
Exibition: Dutch art: 17th century

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