1902 Encyclopedia > Jacob Ruysdael (Jacob van Ruisdael)

Jacob Ruysdael
(also known as: Jacob van Ruisdael)
Dutch landscape painter
(c. 1625-82)

JACOB RUYSDAEL, or RUISDAAL (c. 1625-1682), the most celebrated of the Dutch landscapists, was born at Haarlem about 1625. The accounts of his life are very conflicting, and recent criticism and research have discredited much that was previously received as fact regarding his career. He appears to have studied under his father Izaac Ruysdael, a landscape-painter, though other authorities make him the pupil of Berghem and of Albert van Everdingen. The earliest date that appears on his paintings and etchings is 1645. Three years later he was admitted a member of the guild of St Luke in Haarlem; in 1659 he obtained the freedom of the city of Amsterdam, and we know that he was resident there in 1668, for in that year his name appears as a witness to the marriage of Hobbema. During his lifetime his works were little appreciated, and he seems to have suffered from poverty. In 1681 the sect of the Mennonites, with whom he was connected, petitioned the council of Haarlem for his admission into the almshouse of the town, and there the artist died on the 14th of March 1682.

The works of Ruysdael may be studied in the Louvre and the National Gallery, London, and in the collections at The Hague, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Dresden. His favourite subjects are simple woodland scenes, similar to those of Everdingen and Hobbema, or views of picturesque mills and cottages, or of ruined towers and temples, set upon broken ground, beside streams or waterfalls. He is especially noted as a painter of trees, and his rendering of foliage, particularly of oak leafage, is characterized by the greatest spirit and precision. His views of distant cities, such as that of Haarlem in the possession of the marquis of Bute, and that of Katwijk in the Glasgow Corporation Galleries, clearly indicate the influence of Rembrandt. He frequently paints coast-scenes, and sea-pieces with breaking waves and stormy skies filled with wind-driven clouds, but it is in his rendering of lonely forest glades that we find him at his best. The subjects of certain of his mountain scenes, with bold rocks, waterfalls, and fir-trees, seem to be taken from Norway, and have led to the supposition that he had travelled in that country. We have, however, no record of such a journey, and the works in question are probably merely adaptations from the landscapes of Yan Everdingen, whose manner he copied at one period. Only a sinjde architectural subject from his brush is known—an admirable interior of the New Church, Amsterdam, in the possession of the marquis of Bute. The prevailing hue of his landscapes is a full rich green, which, how-ever, has darkened with time, while a clear grey tone is character-istic of his sea-pieces.

The art of Ruysdael, while it shows little of the scientific know-ledge of later landscapists, is sensitive and poetic in sentiment, and direct and skilful in technique. Figures are sparingly introduced into his compositions, and such as occur are believed to be from the pencils of Adrian Vandevelde, Philip Wouwennan, and Jan Lingel-bach. In his love of landscape for itself, in his delight in the quiet and solitude of nature, the painter is thoroughly modern in feeling.

Ruysdael etched a few plates, which were reproduced by Amand Durand in 1878, with text by M. Georges Duplessis. The "Champ de Blé" and the "Voyageurs" are characterized by M. Duplessis as ' ' estampes de haute valeur qui peuvent être regardées comme les spécimens les plus significatifs de l'art du paysagiste dans les Pays-Bas."

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