Although only one painting among the group is dated, it is possible to establish a loose chronological framework for these pictures. The earliest are clearly based on the works of his contemporary Allart van Everdingen (1621-1675), the Alkmaar artist, who traveled to Norway and Sweden in 1644-1645 and returned to the Netherlands to paint what he had seen there. These early works are generally vertical in format and depict the rugged Scandinavian landscape, with its rocky streams and spindly trees. In the later 1660s and 1670s Ruisdael favors a gentler landscape, not so distinctly Nordic in feeling, perhaps inspired by what he had seen on his journey through the region along the Dutch-German border that he made with Nicolaes Berchem around 1650. In those paintings, as in the present work, the trees are deciduous, the waterfalls less steep and the format more often horizontal. The present work has been variously dated, but Minty’s suggested date of about 1670 seems convincing.2
Ruisdael depicts the scene from a relatively low view point, with the rocky stream filling the foreground, and the clump of trees rising in the middle distance serving as the central point of the composition. Above is a deep blue sky, which despite the many dark clouds, does not actually seem to be threatening a storm. This peaceful mood is enhanced by the presence of the mother and child under the thatched roof and the shepherd with his flock on the hill at the upper right.3 The artist has created a marvelous sense of transparency in the composition, so that we seem to look through the closer elements toward the hills in the far distance. He paints the main elements in broad, smooth strokes and then enlivens the details with short, irregular brushwork so that the white foam on the stream truly seems to bubble up from the surface. Similarly, he uses a personal shorthand to create the irregular leaves of the central trees, layering different shades of green and brown on top of each other to create sense of foliage without actually outlining a specific leaf form. He creates a mood of calm majesty that is characteristic of this very fertile period in his artistic life.
1. See Slive, under Literature, pp. 154-155, for a discussion of these cascade paintings.
2. N.T. Minty in New Orleans 1997 and Baltimore 1999 (see Literature).
3. With regard to the interpretation the picture as the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Slive (op. cit., pp. 159-160), swiftly dismissed that and most modern scholars would agree.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale