Flemish and Dutch painting

Landscape near Haarlem

Van Ruysdael
Haarlem, 1628 - Amsterdam ou Haarlem, 1682

Around 1660, Oil on canvas, 41 x 39 cm

Jacob Van Ruysdael is the most famous Dutch landscape painter. Before him, Jan Van Goyen created the genre of “Dutch landscapes”: of water, clouds, an ethereal world, transparent, without, or with very few, people. The landscape is no longer just decoration; it becomes a subject in its own right. Ruysdael took this genre to its zenith, but in his own way: worried, lyrical and moving.
This is demonstrated perfectly here, with the large cloudy, tormented sky, the narrow yet deep strip of earth with its sombre bushes with gnarled trunks and its castle in ruins. Finally, on the horizon a distant town can be distinguished, a miniscule construction in the immensity of the plain. The plunging view and the position of the line of the horizon give the atmosphere and the cloudy swirls the better part of this composition. This view of Haarlem, apparently so peaceful, thus becomes a tragic vision of humanity.

Rembrandt and Ruysdael are often compared to each other, both having as they did a tragic vision of the world.

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