Lot 23
  • 23

Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael
  • Landscape with Houses on a Rocky Hill with a View of a Plain Beyond
  • Signed with monogram lower right

  • oil on panel

  • 46.7 by 63.4 cm.


Baron Weber (State Chancellory Counsellor), Vienna, 1781 until at least 1814;
Grünauer collection, Vienna;
Possibly Basse collection;
Possibly Jules Porgès, Vienna and, later, Paris, 1858 (according to Moes);
K. Henkel;
Purchased from the above by Wilhelm Koller in 1858; 
His deceased sale, Vienna, Posonyi, 5 February 1872, lot 14;
Dr. Max Strauss, Vienna, by 1912;
His sale, Vienna, Gluckselig, 22-23 March 1926, lot 32, where purchased for ATS 15,000;
Dr. Gustav Arens, Vienna;
Lise Haas (née Arens), Vienna;
Confiscated and allocated to the Ferdinandum, Innsbruck;
Restituted May 1948 and thence by descent.


G F. Waagen, Die vornehmsten Kunstdenkmäler in Wien, Vienna 1866-7, vol. I, p. 339;
Th. von Frimmel, Geschichte der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen, vol. I, 1899, p. 174;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch painters of the seventeenth century based on the work of John Smith, vol. IV, London 1907, p. 276, cat. no. 900;
E.W. Moes, "Beschreibendes... Verzeichnis der Werke der höllandischen Maler," in Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft, Esslingen-Paris 1913, vol. 4, p. 297;
W. Suida in Kunstschätze der Sammlung Dr. Max Strauss in Wien, Vienna 1920, cat. no. 69, reproduced;
J. Rosenberg, Jacob van Ruisdael, Berlin 1928, cat. no. 419;
S. Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, New Haven and London 2001, cat. no. 482, reproduced (where described as signed in monogram lower right and of unknown whereabouts);
S. Lillie, Was einmal war: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens, Vienna 2003, pp. 95-6, inv. no. 26.

In aquatint by J.G. Prestel (1739-1808).



The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work on panel has been quite recently restored and is in beautiful condition. The panel is made from two sections of oak joined horizontally through the middle. There are no reinforcements on the reverse and the panel join is still unbroken. There is a diagonal scratch in the upper right corner of the sky, which has been retouched. There are hardly any retouches in the remainder of the sky or in the darker colors of the landscape. The work has clearly survived the years beautifully and should be hung as is.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This landscape was painted in the early 1650s and it is undoubtedly inspired by the countryside around Bentheim in Westphalia, where Ruisdael travelled in 1650 with his townsman Nicolaes Berchem. Ruisdael's best known paintings from this trip are his sixteen views of Bentheim castle and it is from these that he took the compositional idea for the present work. In almost all of the sixteen Bentheim views (except one executed at the end of his career)1 Ruisdael exaggerates the height of the hill on which the castle sits, thus lending both the castle and the landscape itself a heroism that, in reality, is in fact absent. Likewise here the height of the steep, rocky incline is undoubtedly of his own creation.  Comparing, thus, this landscape to the view of Bentheim castle formerly at Kingston Hall, Derbyshire,2 that is also datable to the early 1650s, we see an instant correlation between the compositions; a hill rises sharply in shadow filling the left two thirds of the landscape and is crowned by buildings that, of the landscape elements, alone catch the scant watery rays of sunlight; to the right a dune landscape recedes towards a low rolling horizon marked out in Ruisdael's singular turquoise hue. Above, in the vast and heavy skies, the meager sunlight is picked up by only one or two passing clouds.

Several other works from this period borrow the Bentheim compositional motif and incorporate elements of the Westphalian hinterland though in similarly imaginary settings. The monogrammed work in the London National Gallery, dated by Slive to 1655,3 repeats the motif though in reverse, and includes a couple of small dwellings perched awkwardly on the rocky incline. These constructions, seen here at the extreme left, are typical of the half-timbered houses that populate the western part of Westphalia and across the border in a small eastern part of the Netherlands . They are distinguished by their distinctive vertical plank gables and the anchor-beam construction of their timbered framework. The Haarlem artist Vincent Laurensz van der Vinne, visiting the area in 1652 at the same time as Ruisdael, described them in his journal as constructed in a 'funny' ("kluchtich") manner of clay, wood and thatch, a description that fits both these small constructions perfectly.4  Such buildings occupy many of Ruisdael's later works too, notably the many tumultuous river landscapes inspired by Allaert van Everdingen's own Scandinavian landscapes.

The basis for identifying the painting with both the Porgès and Basse collections is not known. The earliest mention of the name Porgès comes in the 1878 auction catalogue of Wilhelm Koller's collection and it is subsequently cited by Suida in the 1920 Max Strauss catalogue. It probably refers to the Viennese Porgès family whose best known son was Jules, an entrepreneur who moved to Paris in 1860 to found the diamond trading company Jules Porgès & Cie and who amassed an extensive art collection, owning at least two other Ruisdaels. This painting does not however feature in any of the many auctions of his collection and it therefore likely remained in Vienna with another family member, who probably had a connection to K. Henckel with whom Suida mentions in the same context as Porgès. The other uncertain element of the provenance is the Basse name, which is not mentioned by Suida but does appear, like Porgès, in the 1878 catalogue. Neither Porgès nor Basse are mentioned by Hofstede de Groot (see Literature).

1.  S. Slive, under Literature, p. 37, no. 23, reproduced.
2.  Sold, London, Sotheby's, 7 July 2005, lot 16, for £2.3m.
3.  Slive, op. cit., p. 288, no. 374, reproduced.
4.  B.Sliggers Jr., ed., Dagelijekse aentekeninge van Vincent Luarensz van der Vinne, Haarlem 1979, p. 50.