Salomon van Ruysdael
(Naarden 1600/1603 – 1670 Haarlem)
A River Landscape with Cattle watering and sailing Boats beyond
Signed with monogram and dated lower left SVR/1653
Oil on panel
42.5 x 61 cm.
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The present painting is one of Salomon van Ruysdael’s most poetic river landscapes, portraying the calm majesty and tranquillity of Holland’s inland waterways, rendered here with a bright and colourful palette.
From the dark reeds of the river bank in the foreground, a broad river stretches to a low horizon in the distance, its course indicated by a sailing boat glimpsed between the taller trees in the mid-ground. The main vertical accent provided by the trees is counter-balanced on the right by four sailing boats heading calmly towards the town on the distant horizon, indicated by the silhouette of a church. On the riverbank the roof of a farmhouse can be seen, nestling amongst the delicate foliage of trees. The trees, boats, and the surface of the water are observed with remarkable precision, as are the reeds in the river bank in the left foreground, shown silhouetted against the water. The water also reflects the typical Dutch sky with its windy clouds, which takes up most of the canvas and is the defining element of the painting’s bright and breezy atmosphere.
Ruysdael has characteristically given an important role in this painting to the cattle, some of which stand amongst the ducks in the shallows of the river, while others sit on the meandering riverbank. A charming sense of spontaneity is achieved in the artist’s observation of a cow nudging its companion in the shallows of the foreground, while another gazes out at the viewer from the riverbank.
Salomon van Ruysdael ranks amongst the greatest pioneers of naturalistic landscape painting in seventeenth century Holland. A prolific painter, he specialized in river and estuary scenes, of which the earliest dated painting is of 1626. He often assigns an important place to cattle in these river scenes, which are characteristically depicted on the shore with a cowherd, or being ferried across the water. As we see in the present painting, Van Ruysdael evoked panoramic views by means of a simple diagonal construction. He first treated the river scene in around 1630, and by 1631 had already established a compositional formula consisting of a water-filled foreground and diagonally receding riverbank with prominent trees, which was to characterize all his classic treatments of the subject. The present river scene exemplifies Ruysdael’s work during the later 1640s and early 1650s, in which he introduced greater monumentality, more emphasis on structure, sharper value contrasts, and stronger colour accents to his paintings.
Ruysdael’s paintings are represented in important museum collections all over the world. This painting can be compared to the River Landscape with Ferry, dated 1649, formerly in the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker and now in The Jewish Museum in New York. Another comparable river landscape is the River Landscape with Ferry and Church, also dated 1649, in the Collection of The Royal Picture Gallery in The Mauritshuis, The Hague.
Salomon van Ruysdael was born in Naarden, a town in Gooiland, in about 1600/1603, and baptized as Salomon de Gooyer after his father, Jacob Jansz. de Gooyer. However after their father’s death in 1616, Salomon and his brothers adopted the name van Ruysdael, a variation of the name of the castle of Ruijschdaal (near Blaricum in Gooiland), which may once have been a family possession. Salomon’s equally famous nephew Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael (1628/9-1682), was the only member of the family who spelt his new name with an ‘i’. Although Salomon’s early years of training remain obscure, we know he became a member of the Haarlem painters’ guild, the guild of St. Luke, in 1623. His early work shows the influence of the landscapists Esaias van de Velde (1587-1630), as well as Pieter de Molijn (1595-1661) and Jan van Goyen (1596-1656).
Etienne-Edmond-Martin, Baron de Beurnonville (1825-1906), Paris
Sale, Pillet, Paris, 9-16 May 1881, lot 462 (as dated 1651)
With F. Kleinberger, Paris, from whom acquired by August de Ridder (1837-1911), Villa Schönberg near Kronberg, by 1910, and by descent to André de Ridder (1868-1921)
Sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 2 June 1924, lot 65 (as dated 1657)
Dr. A. F. Philips, Eindhoven, and recorded as hanging in the hall at De Laak in 1928
Mrs. Van Riemsdijk-Philips, Valkenswaard
Sale, Christie’s, London, 6 December 2007, lot 12
W. von Bode, Die Gemäldegalerie des Herrn A. de Ridder, Berlin 1910, p. 16, no. 52, illustrated.
W. Stechow, Salomon van Ruysdael, Berlin 1975, p. 150, nos. 523, 525.