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Jacob van Ruisdael

Ruisdael or Ruysdael, Jacob van (both: yäˈkōp vän roisˈdäl) [key], 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 Hobbema 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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