This idyllic woodland landscape by Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael dates to the 1670s, the final decade of one of the most renowned landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age. During this mature period of his career, Ruisdael imbued many of his wooded and forest landscapes with a pastoral charm, a contrast to the more imposing landscapes of this genre that defined the 1650s and 1660s. In this open and airy composition, two tall and slender trees frame a vast, lush forest. The dense but delicate foliage that climbs upwards provides a pleasing balance to the billowing grey clouds in the blue sky. The tree trunk, wooden branches, and other greenery in the immediate foreground of the scene contrast with the faint landscape visible through a small opening in the distant background, an element that invites the audience to explore the quiet intricacies of this dense but peaceful woodland. A diffuse light that bathes the scene with a warm glow, accentuates the soft colors of the leaves, and helps to convey a believable sense of depth and also softly illuminates the winding beaten path on which a few travelers meander.
Notable affinities can be found in another wooded landscape with figures in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (inv. no. 52.1757), which not only is also dated to the 1670s, but shares the tranquility, verticality, and compositional details found within the present work.1
1. See Slive, in Literature, p. 261, no. 323.