SALOMON VAN RUYSDAEL | A RIVER LANDSCAPE WITH CATTLE WATERING AND SAILING BOATS BEYOND

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SALOMON VAN RUYSDAEL
(Naarden ?1600/3-1670 Haarlem)
A River Landscape with Cattle Watering and Sailing Boats Beyond
signed in monogram lower left and dated S.VR 1653 ('VR' in ligature)
oil on panel
15 5/8 x 23 3⁄4 in. (39.7 x 60.3 cm.)

Price Available Upon Request

PROVENANCE
Etienne-Edmond-Martin, Baron de Beurnonville (1825-1906), 3 rue Chaptal, Paris;
His sale, Paris, Pillet, 9-16 May 1881, lot 462 (as dated 1651), for 5,900 francs to Rambourg;
With Franz Kleinberger, Paris and New York;
Acquired from the above by August de Ridder (1837-1911), Villa Schönberg, Kronberg im Taunus, by 1910;
By descent to André de Ridder (1868-1921), Paris;
His posthumous sale, Paris, Georges Petit, 2 June 1924, lot 65 (as dated 1657) for 53,000 francs;
There purchased by Anton Philips (1874-1951), De Laak, Eindhoven;
Thence by family descent until bought post sale London, Christie's, 6 December 2007, lot 12;
With Salomon Lilian, Amsterdam and Geneva;
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

LITERATURE
W. von Bode, Die Gemäldegalerie des Herrn A. de Ridder, Berlin 1910, p. 16, no. 52, reproduced;
W. Stechow, Salomon van Ruysdael, Berlin 1975, p. 150, no. 525.


CATALOGUE NOTE

Salomon van Ruysdael was together with Jan van Goyen, the pre-eminent pioneer of naturalistic landscape painting in the Netherlands during the middle third of the seventeenth century. A prolific painter, much of his oeuvre throughout his life was devoted to the depiction of calm inland river landscapes such as this. His earlier works in the 1630s, were painted, like those of Van Goyen, in a very restricted tonal palette. From around 1640 onwards, however, his compositions become more colourful and more classically composed, with trees, buildings and sailing boats set in relief against increasingly large expanses of sunny cloud-filled sky.

Painted in the early 1650s, this delightful river scene is an excellent example of this phase of his career, and has long been recognised for its particularly high quality. At the time of the great de Beurnonville sale in 1881, it was praised it for its charm — '...d'une légèreté et d'une facilité d'exécution des plus remarquables' (‘..of a remarkable ease and lightness of touch’), and it has since graced some of the most important collections of Dutch art formed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In this river landscape the light and a gentle breeze come from the left, the latter pushing the sailboats to the right of the picture and creating light ripples on the surface of the water. The clouds range from bright white to a more threatening grey but the overall feeling is of clear and open light. But despite the apparent realism of the setting, it is the composition itself that is of primary importance, for this seemingly simple scene is devised with the greatest of care and attention. The composition follows a pattern that Ruysdael had already developed in the early 1630s and which would characterize his subsequent treatments of the subject. The river recedes along a diagonal from left to right formed by the water and the far bank, and the eye is led by the leaning trees and the sails of a large boat towards a larger body of water beyond. The diagonal is offset by a group of cattle and other smaller sailing vessels in the middle distance, and on the extreme right the composition is anchored by the distant mass of a large church on the far horizon. Even the smallest details, such as the delightfully naturalistic group of jostling cattle in the centre foreground, are arranged so as to bring the eye round and back toward to the left of the view and complete the balance between the darker masses of the rooftop and the foliage with the luminous cloud filled sky, itself a masterful orchestration of a limited chorus of blues, whites and greys. Even the smallest details, from the roof of the building on the left to the silhouetted reeds on the riverbank on the right are treated with the utmost care and thought.

The quality of this painting is underlined by the fact that it successively formed part of three of the most distinguished European collections of Dutch paintings formed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first of these, the collection of the Baron de Beurnonville (1825-1906), was without question among the most distinguished formed in France in the second half of the nineteenth century. Dispersed in sales between 1872 and 1906, it comprised more than 1,000 paintings as well as drawings and works of art.

The majority were by or attributed to Northern artists active in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, and included works by or attributed to Jan van Eyck, Hugo van der Goes, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, and Rubens. De Buernonville’s Dutch landscapes included another fine landscape by Ruysdael, a River scene with fisherman dragging nets of 1667 and Jacob van Ruisdael’s Quayside in Amsterdam, both now in the Frick Collection, New York, two paintings by Aelbert Cuyp as well as Rembrandt's Landscape with an Obelisk of 1638 today in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in Boston. The collection was also exceptionally strong in French paintings, among them, for example, Drouais' famous Portrait of Madame de Pompadour (1763-4, National Gallery, London) as well as paintings by Chardin, Fragonard, Ingres and Delacroix. Works by Italian artists included Giambattista Tiepolo's Venus in the forge of Vulcan (c. 1760, Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Triumph of Flora (1743-44, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum). After the dispersal of the de Beurnonville collection, the Ruysdael was acquired by the Belgian business magnate August Cornelius de Ridder (1837-1911), acting through the agency of the Parisian dealer Franz Kleinberger, aided by Wilhelm von Bode, Director of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin, who later wrote the catalogue of his collection. De Ridder’s collection was especially focused upon works from the Dutch School, and numbered among its highlights Rembrandt’s Portrait of Dirck Jansz. Pesser (1634, Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Gerard Ter Borch’s Two men and a woman playing cards (Winterthur, Foundation Oskar Reinhart), Nicholas Maes’s Kitchen interior with a maid (1655, Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Aert van der Neer’s Winter Landscape today in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

This distinguished provenance continued into the twentieth century, when it was sold at auction in 1924 after the death of De Ridder’s son André, at which point it was bought by Anton Philips (1874-1951), the co-founder of Royal Philips Electronics. Displayed in his villa De Laak in Eindhoven (the Ruysdael hung in the hall) the Philips collection was probably the most important of its generation in the Netherlands. It included a group of exceptional Dutch and Flemish paintings, among them David Teniers the Younger’s Card Players, Adriaen van Ostade’s Village scene with a hurdy-gurdy player, Rubens’s Double head study of a man, Jacob van Ruisdael’s View of Amsterdam from the South now in the Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, and Jan van der Heyden’s View of the Anthonispoort in Amsterdam today in the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Karlsruhe. The collection was finally dispersed in a series of sales in Amsterdam and London between 2005 and 2007.

For all enquires, please contact George.Gordon@sothebys.com

Currently Available for Private Sale

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