Jacob van Ruisdael

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Ruisdael or Ruysdael, Jacob van

(both: yä`kōp vän rois`däl), c.1628–1682, Dutch painter and etcher, the most celebrated of the Dutch landscape painters. He studied with his father Isack and perhaps with his uncle Salomon van Ruysdael, a well-known Haarlem landscapist. He first worked in Haarlem, moveing to Amsterdam in 1656. Late in life, he obtained a medical degree and practiced as a physician. Ruisdael's characteristic work shows northern nature in a somber mood. His dramatic skies are usually overcast, throwing a restless flux of light over the countryside. Gnarled, knotted oak and beech trees are rendered with extraordinary accuracy. Ruisdael's later works show great breadth of stroke, dramatizing humanity's insignificance amid the splendor of nature. Important paintings include Jewish Cemetery (c.1655, Detroit Inst. of Art) and Wheatfields (c.1670, Metropolitan Mus.). He also produced some very fine etchings. Possessed of a romantic sensibility before the advent of romanticism, Ruisdael anticipated and inspired many of the great French and English landscapists of the next two centuries. Of his pupils, Meindert HobbemaHobbema, Meindert
, 1638–1709, Dutch landscape painter. In landscape art Hobbema was second only to his contemporary Jacob van Ruisdael, with whom he may have studied. Most of his life was spent in a poor district of Amsterdam, where he died a pauper.
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 was the most outstanding. The Rijksmuseum, the National Gallery, London, and many American collections have examples of his work.


See W. Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century (1968); S. Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings (2002), Jacob Van Ruisdael: Master of Landscape (2005), and Jacob van Ruisdael: Windmills and Water Mills (2011).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ruisdael, Jacob van


Born in 1628 or 1629 in Haarlem; died in 1682 in Amsterdam; buried Mar. 14, 1682, in Haarlem. Dutch painter and graphic artist.

Ruisdael, who probably studied with his uncle S. van Ruysdael, was influenced by the work of P. Potter, J. van Goyen, and H. Seghers. In 1648 he became a master in the guild of Haarlem. Ruisdael’s early works are modest views of Haarlem’s environs (for example, The Small House in the Grove, 1646, Hermitage, Leningrad). From roughly 1650 to 1655, Ruisdael traveled throughout eastern Holland and western Germany. During his period abroad he painted a number of dramatic landscapes, including The Jewish Cemetery (Dresden Picture Gallery; variant in the Detroit Institute of Arts).

Ruisdael settled in Amsterdam circa 1656. In his mature period he painted urban, rural, river, and sea views (for example. The Millage of Egmond aan Zee, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; Windmill at Wijk, 1661, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). He also painted Norwegian mountain landscapes (Waterfalls, Mauritshuis, The Hague) and scenes of thickets along marshes and forest streams (The Marsh, Hermitage). His Norwegian landscapes are reminiscent of the works of A. Everdingen. Precise line and palpable form are combined in these works with an exquisite rendering of aerial perspective and a play of light and shadow. Ruisdael’s colors are marked by subtle gradations of tone. The juxtaposition of ashen gray and faded green foliage, grayish brown soil, and a blue cloud-filled sky predominates.

The emotional tension in many of Ruisdael’s later works eventually took the form of subjective gloom (for example, Mountains in Norway, Hermitage).


Fekhner, E. Iu. lakob van Reisdal i ego kartiny v Gosudarstvennom Ermitazhe. Leningrad, 1958.
Rosenberg, J. Jacob van Ruisdael. Boston [1928].
Wiegand, W. Ruisdael-Studien. Hamburg, 1968. (Dissertation.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.