Slive considers this a late work by Ruisdael, and dates it to the 1670s, when the artist showed a predilection for distant views and panoramic effects. He compares it, for example, to the Mountainous landscape with a river in spate today in the City Art Gallery in Bristol, in which a very similar compositional scheme is employed.1 The towering Norwegian spruces lend a strong Scandinavian accent to the landscape, and were employed to this effect by Ruisdael in a number of works in the 1660s and 1670s, for example those now in the Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum in Duisberg and in a Swedish private collection.2 In these, Ruisdael was undoubtedy influenced by the work of his fellow countryman Allart van Everdingen, whose own landscapes in this vein from the late 1640s onwards were based upon his first hand experience of the Scandinavian countryside.
If the painting was indeed bought by Ralph Howard during his stay in Rome in January and February of 1752, then this would be a very rare example of a work by Ruisdael being found south of the Alps by the mid-18th century. Only one work, the celebrated Great Oak now in the Los Angeles County Museum, which belonged to Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga (1690-1756), can certainly claim this distinction.
1. Inv. K2421. See Slive, under Literature, 2001, p. 168, cat. no. 158, reproduced.
2. Ibid., cat. nos 185, 283.
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