- Ruisdael, Jacob van
- Dutch, c. 1628/1629 - 1682
- Ruysdael, Jacob van
The exact date of Jacob van Ruisdael's birth is not known, although a document from June 1661 gives his age as thirty-two, placing the year of his birth around 1628 or 1629. Ruisdael's father, Isaack, was born in Naarden in about 1599, at which time his family's surname was De Goyer. Isaack's brother Jacob (born c. 1594) adopted the name Ruysdael, possibly because his father had lived in the castle of Ruisdael (or Ruisschendael) near Blaricum. Only later did Isaack and his younger brother, the landscape painter Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/1603-1670), begin to use this surname, while a fourth brother, Pieter (born c. 1596), always called himself De Goyer.
On November 12, 1628, Isaack van Ruysdael, by then a widower, was married for the second time, to Maycken Cornelisdr. Jacob may have been the child of this marriage. In addition to his documented activities as a picture dealer and a maker of ebony frames, Isaack van Ruysdael was also a painter. Jacob van Ruisdael's earliest works are dated 1646, made when he was only seventeen or eighteen. He entered Haarlem's painters' guild in 1648. It is not known who his early teachers were, but he probably learned painting from his father and his uncle Salomon van Ruysdael. Some of the dunescapes that he produced during the late 1640s clearly draw on works by Salomon, while his wooded landscapes of these years suggest he also had contact with the Haarlem artist Cornelis Vroom (c. 1591-1661).
Houbraken (see person bibliography) writes that at his father's request Ruisdael also learned Latin, and that he later studied medicine, becoming a famous surgeon in Amsterdam. Two documents are cited by later authors in support of this latter claim, the first being a register of Amsterdam doctors that states that a "Jacobus Ruijsdael" received a medical degree from the University of Caen, in Normandy, on October 15, 1676. This entry in the register has been crossed out - it is not clear when - and it seems unlikely that in his late maturity, Ruisdael the successful painter would have gone to France to get a medical degree. Nonetheless, a landscape with a waterfall was sold in 1720 as the work of "Doctor Jacob Ruisdael;" thus the possibility that the artist Jacob van Ruisdael was also a practicing doctor cannot be entirely dismissed.
During the early 1650s, Ruisdael traveled to Westphalia near the Dutch-German border with Nicolaes Berchem, who Houbraken identifies as "een groot vrient" (a great friend) of Ruisdael. Among the sites they visited was the castle Bentheim, which appears in both artists' work from this period.
About 1656 Ruisdael settled in Amsterdam, where on July 14, 1657 he was baptized into the Reformed Church (he had been brought up a Mennonite). In 1659 he was granted citizenship in Amsterdam, and his name appears again in the records the next year, when he testified on July 8 that Meindert Lubbertsz. (who subsequently adopted the name Hobbema) had been his pupil. In Amsterdam, Ruisdael must have known the work of Allart van Everdingen (1621-1675) who resided in that city from about 1652. Everdingen, who had traveled to Scandinavia in the 1640s, painted views of pine forests and rocky waterfalls, subjects that Ruisdael explored in the mid-1660s. From about 1670 until his death, Ruisdael lived over the shop of the Amsterdam art and book dealer Hieronymous Sweerts, located just off the Dam, Amsterdam's main public square. He was buried in his birthplace of Haarlem on March 14, 1682, but may well have died in Amsterdam, where he is recorded in January of that year.
One of the greatest and most influential Dutch artists of the seventeenth century, Ruisdael was also the most versatile of landscapists, painting virtually every type of landscape subject. His landscapes are characterized by a combination of almost scientific observation with a monumental and even heroic compositional vision. Early in his career he also worked as an etcher. Thirteen of his prints have survived, along with a considerable number of drawings.
In addition to Ruisdael's numerous followers, most importantly his pupil Meindert Hobbema and Jan van Kessel (1641/42-1680), the names of several other artists are associated with him by virtue of their having contributed figures to his landscapes. Amongst these are Berchem, Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668), Adriaen van de Velde (1636-1672), and Johannes Lingelbach (c. 1624-1674). [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
- Houbraken, Arnold. De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen. 3 vols. in 1. The Hague, 1753 (Reprint: Amsterdam, 1976): 3:65-66.
- Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 6(1835):1-107; 9(1842):680-718.
- Michel, Emile. Jacob van Ruisdael et les paysagistes de l'école de Haarlem. Paris, 1890.
- Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 4(1912):1-349.
- Rosenberg, Jakob. Jacob van Ruisdael. Berlin, 1928.
- Simon, Kurt Erich. Jacob van Ruisdael: Eine Darstellung seiner Entwicklung. Berlin, 1930.
- Wiegand, Wilfred. "Ruisdael-Studien: Ein Versuch zur Ikonologie der Landschaftsmalerei." Ph.D. diss., Hamburg, 1971.
- Giltay, Jeroen. "De tekeningen van Jacob van Ruisdael." Oud Holland 94 (1980): 141-186.
- Schmidt, Winfried. Studien zur Landschaftskunst Jacob van Ruisdaels: Frühwerke und Wanderjahre. Hildesheim and New York, 1981.
- Slive, Seymour. Jacob van Ruisdael. Exh. cat. Mauritshuis, The Hague; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts. New York, 1981.
- Sutton, Peter C., et al. Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Painting. Exh. cat. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art. Boston, 1987: 437-465.
- Walford, E. John Jacob van Ruisdael and the Perception of Landscape. New Haven, 1991.
- MacLaren, Neil. The Dutch School, 1600-1900. Revised and expanded by Christopher Brown. 2 vols. National Gallery Catalogues. London, 1991: 1:379.
- Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 338-339.