Jacob Ruisdael images and biography
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Jacob Ruisdael
(c. 1628-1682)


Ruisdael, Jacob: Dutch painter and engraver. Born in Haarlem, he may have trained first under his father, Isaac, but then, more importantly and with greater certainty, under his uncle, the landscape painter, Salomon van Ruysdael. In 1648 he entered the Haarlem Guild, but in about 1656 moved to Amsterdam where, according to Houbraken (although most modern scholars now doubt this), he also earned a living as a physician. He stayed there for about 30 years, returning to Haarlem in his old age, where he was buried in St. Bavo's Cathedral. (The story that he died sick and impoverished is without foundation, and is probably a case of mistaken identity as this was the fate of Jacob's cousin, Jacob Salomonsz. van Ruysdael.)

Ruisdael's early landscapes in Haarlem, principally of dunes and estuaries, were influenced by the work of his uncle and, more especially, Cornelis Vroom. Shortly before he moved to Amsterdam he had travelled with his friend, Nicolaes Berchem, to the hilly and wooded countryside of eastern Holland and western Germany. The wilder, more rugged nature of this area struck a deep chord with him and the studies he made on this visit were incorporated into the work of his maturity by which he is best known. Characteristically, these landscapes include waterfalls, pine forests and hills under dramatically stormy skies, the forces of nature often being used to symbolize the fragility of man's existence (e.g. The Jewish Cemetery, c. 1660, Dresden). A strong influence on the paintings of this period was Allart van Everdingen, whose paintings of Swedish landscapes were even more evocatively remote. Ruisdael's figures were usually painted for him by specialists such as Berchem, Adriaen van Ostade and Wouwermans. His only known pupil was Meindert Hobbema, but his influence both on his contemporaries and on future landscape artists such as Gainsborough, Constable and the Barbizon School painters was great. An extremely prolific painter, Ruisdael's work can be seen in most public collections.

- From The Bulfinch Guide to Art History

Further reading on Jacob Ruisdael:

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Jacob Ruisdael Images

c. 1657 The Jewish Cemetery
c. 1665 View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds

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