Overview

Salomon van Ruysdael’s masterful River Landscape with Ferry has a visual force that reflects the sense of pride the Dutch felt at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Münster in 1648, which gave full autonomy to the Dutch Republic. After war of independence from Spanish rule that lasted eighty years, the Dutch set out to explore the myriad visual delights of the prosperous country that they could finally claim as their own. Many went east, along the Rhine River, to see historic cities such as Nijmegen and Rhenen that had played significant roles in the formation of the Republic. Ruysdael may have traveled along these same routes, but no drawings from his hand survive to document any such journey. The large crenulated castle in this painting is a fanciful construct, but it is reminiscent of fortresslike structures situated along the Rhine in the eastern region of the Netherlands.

Ruysdael painted River Landscape with Ferry in 1649 when the full scope of his artistic personality had come to maturity. The work is imposing in scale and visually compelling, both for its harmonious composition and for the rich variety of its pictorial elements. It has wonderful atmospheric qualities, subtle reflections in the water, and delightful figures crowded into the ferryboat. The large clump of trees centers the composition and provides a sturdy framework for the animals and humans activating the scene. Ruysdael also effectively used these trees to open the sense of space, for not only does the ferryboat pass before them, but wagons loaded with passengers also travel the track behind them.

With the outbreak of World War II in the Netherlands, art dealer Jacques Goudstikker fled Amsterdam with his wife and son in May 1940, but he died in an accident on board the ship carrying him and his family to safety. He left behind most of his gallery's stock of paintings, and the Goudstikker collection, including this work by Ruysdael, was confiscated by the Nazis and delivered to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring later that year. The Allied forces recovered the painting at the end of the war, and it was returned to the State of the Netherlands in 1948. The painting was on view in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, from 1960 until 2006, at which time the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker reclaimed the collection from the Dutch government and received the restituted paintings. The National Gallery of Art acquired River Landscape with Ferry when a number of Goudstikker paintings subsequently reentered the art market.

 

Inscription

on the ferry below the white horse: Salomon v. Ruysdael. 1649

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Possibly Hugh Edward Wilbraham [1857-1930], Delamere House, near Northwich, Cheshire; by inheritance to his son, George Hugh de Vernon Wilbraham [1890-1962], Delamere House; (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 18 July 1930, no. 33); (Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam);[1] restituted 6 February 2006 to his daughter-in-law, Marei von Saher, Greenwich, Connecticut; purchased 5 November 2007 through (Christie's, New York) by NGA.

Exhibition History

1930
Nouvelles Acquisitions de la Collection Goudstikker, Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker, Amsterdam; Kunstkring, Rotterdam, 1930-1931, no. 65, repro.
1935
Cinq siècles d'art, Exposition Universelle et Internationale, Brussels, 1935, no. 767, under Paintings, as Le bac.
1936
Tentoonstelling van Oude Kunst, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, April 1936, no. 34, under Paintings, as De Veerpont.
1936
Tentoonstelling van Oude Kunst uit het bezit van den Internationalen Handel, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1936, no. 142, repro., as De Veerpont.
1936
Tentoonstelling van Schilderijen en Antiquiteiten, Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker N.V., Rotterdamschen Kunstkring, December 1936-January 1937, no. 57, repro., as De Veerpont.
1936
Tentoonstelling van Werken door Salomon van Ruysdael, Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker N.V., Amsterdam, January-February 1936, no. 34, as De Veerpont.
1937
Dutch Paintings, Etchings, Drawings, Delftware of the Seventeenth Century, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, 1937, no. 65, repro., as The Ferry Boat.
1946
Herwonnen Kunstbezit, Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1946, no. 55.
1946
Paintings Looted from Holland Returned through the Efforts of The United States Armed Forces, multi-venue tour in the United States and Canada, 1946-1948, nos. 36 and 39 (two editions of catalogue), as A Ferry.
1953
Holländer des 17. Jahrhunderts, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1953, no. 134, as Landschaft mit Fähre.
1954
Dutch Painting: The Golden Age. An Exhibition of Dutch Pictures of the Seventeenth Century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art; Art Gallery of Toronto, 1954-1955, no. 73, repro., as The Ferry Boat.
1954
Mostra di Pittura Olandese del Seicento, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Palazzo Reale, Milan, January-April 1954, no. 133 (Rome catalogue), no. 136 (Milan catalogue).
2008
Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker, Bruce Museum of Arts and Science, Greenwich, 2008, no. 22, repro.

Bibliography

1936
Hennus, M. F. "Tentoonstellingen: Amsterdam: ...Salomon van Ruysdael bij Goudstikker." Maandblad voor Beeldende Kunsten 58 (1936): 58.
1936
Heppner, Arnold. Internationale Kunstwelt 1936): 32, ill. 2.
1936
Heppner, A. "Salomon van Ruysdael: Spezialausstellung bei Goudstikker in Amsterdam." Internationale Kunstwelt (February 1936): 32, ill. 2.
1938
Stechow, Wolfgang. Salomon van Ruysdael, eine Einführung in seine Kunst. Berlin, 1938: 124, no. 358, pl. 24, no. 33
1952
Gerson, Horst. De Nederlandse schilderkunst: Het tijdperk van Rembrandt en Vermeer. De schoonheid van ons land 11. Amsterdam, 1952.
1952
Gerson, Horst. De Nederlandse Schilderkunst, vol. 2: Het tijdperk van Rembrandt en Vermeer. De Schoonheid van Ons Land, 11. Amsterdam, 1952: 44, fig. 122.
1962
Meijer, Emile R. "Salomon Jacobszoon van Ruysdael (kort na 1600-1670) 'Rivierlandschap met veerpont'." Kunstschrift Openbaar Kunstbezit 6 (1962): 35a-35b, repro.
1975
Stechow, Wolfgang. Salomon van Ruysdael: eine Einführung in seine Kunst: mit kritischem Katalog der Gemälde. Revised 2nd ed. Berlin, 1975: 123, no. 358, pl. 24, fig. 33.
1976
Thiel, Pieter J. J. van, et al. All the Paintings of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam: a completely illustrated catalogue. Translated by Gary Schwartz and Marianne Buikstra-de Boer. Maarssen, 1976: 489, no. A3983, repro.
2007
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. "Salomon van Ruysdael: River Landscape with Ferry.." National Gallery of Art Bulletin, no. 36 (Spring 2007): 16-17, color repro.
2008
Sutton, Peter C. Reclaimed: paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker. Exh. cat. Bruce Museum of Arts and Science, Greenwich, Connecticut; The Jewish Museum, New York. Greenwich and New Haven, 2008: 176-179, no. 22.
2008
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. "Salomon van Ruysdael, River Landscape with Ferry." National Gallery of Art Bulletin, no. 39 (Fall 2008): 28-29, repro.

Conservation Notes

The painting is on a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric. The tacking margins have been removed and the painting has been lined. Moderate cusping exists along the sides and top edge. The ground is a thick, white layer and the paint has been vigorously applied using a wet-into-wet technique. Low impasto and clear brushstrokes are found throughout the composition. The tree foliage appears to have been applied with a sponge as well as a brush.

The painting is in fairly good condition. A long tear is found in the upper left section of the sky and there are numerous tiny craters in the paint, which are most notable in the sky. These craters may have been caused by overheating in a past lining process. The paint and ground have suffered from tenting and flaking in the lower quarter of the painting, resulting in a fair amount of small losses in this area. The painting was treated between 2007 and 2008 to consolidate the paint in this area and to remove discolored varnish and overpaint.

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