THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
This is a characteristic early landscape by Jacob van Ruisdael, painted at a time when his style was developing rapidly. Many of these early landscapes are on small panels like this one. Walford (see Literature) suggests that the Henle picture may derive from a putative sketching expedition made with Jacob's father Isaack van Ruysdael, by whom a similar subject, with a curving fence surmounting a dune, is known (oil on panel, 40 by 60cm.).1 The organization of the composition, however, with a dune rising to the left, a sparse clump of trees in the centre, and a stream to the right drawing the eye towards the distance, reflects Jacob van Ruisdael's etching of Cottages and a Clump of Trees on a Small River, done one year earlier.2
The speed with which Jacob van Ruisdael's style developed, as well as his astonishing diversity, may be observed by comparing the Henle picture with the more sophisticated Bush on the Dunes, painted in the same year in Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, and the radically different panoramic View of Naarden, also of 1647, in Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.3
Note on the provenance
This picture was included in the catalogue of the sale of the Henle Collection in these Rooms on 3 December 1997, lot 3, but was withdrawn in the light of concern over the wartime provenance of the painting. In particular, information supplied by Eduard Plietszch to the Henles, and incorporated in the 1964 exhibition catalogue, suggested that this picture had been acquired for Hitler's Gallery at Linz in 1941 ('1941 für die Linzer Galerie erworben'). Subsequent research has revealed no other evidence that this picture was acquired by any means for Linz, and there is no consequent record of its recovery after the war. Furthermore, information kindly supplied in 2001 by Dr. Walther Feilchenfeldt, who has access to the Cassirer archive, shows that the picture was sold to Robert Maas (who was emigrating to the U.S.A.) in 1934, recorded in the Cassirer stockbook of 1938 as the property of Robert Maas under no. 47, and again with the same number in the stockbook of 1947 as the property of Robert's widow Lili Maas, to whom the picture was sent in the same year. All these entries are in the hand of Dr. Herlmuth Lütjens, who looked after the Cassirer Gallery in Amsterdam throughout the war while the owner was in exile, taking out Dutch citizenship shortly before the outbreak of hostilities. This does not prove that the picture was not 'acquired for Linz', but it does demonstrate beyond doubt that the picture was in the same family ownership in 1934, 1938 and 1947.
This picture was subsequently re-offered with the correct provenance and the note above in 12 July 2001, where it was sold to the present collector.
1. Formerly with S. Nystad, The Hague; see Walford, under Literature, p. 61, reproduced fig. 41.
2. See Slive, under Literature, pp. 594-95, no. E1, reproduced.
3. Munich, Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesdammlungen, no. 1022; see Slive, op. cit., p. 427, no. 607; and Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, inv. no. 1930.99; idem, p. 104, no. 78, reproduced.
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