Although it is difficult to suggest a more precise dating for this picture, a clue is afforded by the figures and animals that populate the canvas. As both Slive and Sitt observe, these are attributable to Ruisdael's frequent collaborator, Johannes Lingelbach (1722–1674). Lingelbach had earlier been in Rome, but had left the city in 1650. This picture must therefore date from after his return to Amsterdam, which seems to have been in 1653. The figure of the man who walks with his two greyhounds behind the falconer, holding a frame for carrying hooded birds of prey and their kills, is found in various guises in several of his independent landscapes.3 Very similar staffage by Lingelbach, as well as many of the compositional traits in this canvas, may also be found, for example, in another view of Bentheim Castle and cottages of around 1655, today in the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum, in Kofu, Japan.4
Ruisdael was undoubtedly the greatest landscape painter of the Dutch Golden Age. He entered the Guild of St Luke in Haarlem in 1648, whose members between 1645 and 1655 included several of the best Dutch landscape painters from whom he learnt his trade, among them Salomon van Ruysdael, Pieter Molijn, Cornelis Vroom and, after his return in 1645 from Sweden, Allaert van Everdingen. Ruisdael was undoubtedly responsible for the new direction of Dutch landscape painting after circa 1650, away from the 'tonal' phase exemplified by his uncle Salomon van Ruysdael and by Jan van Goyen to one characterized by a strong colour range and overtly naturalistic compositions. His versatility meant he experimented with every type of landscape painting; his extant oeuvre consists of over 700 paintings of raging torrents, broad distant panoramas of the Dutch flatlands, wide cityscapes, open seascapes and dune-scapes.
1 Slive 2001, p. 40, no. 26, reproduced.
2 Ibid., p. 356, no. 484.
3 See, for example, the Landscape with a hawking party sold in these Rooms, 7 December 2007, lot 161 or that sold London, Christie's 28 April 2006, lot 41.
4 Slive 2001, p. 34, no. 18.
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