RUISDAEL Jacob Isaacksz. van
He was the son of a frame-maker and painter and the nephew, and probably the pupil, of the landscape painter Salomon van Ruysdael. The latter influenced his early works, which also bear a resemblance to the oeuvre of Cornelis Hendriksz. Vroom (1591-1661). In 1648, Jacob van Ruisdael was admitted as a master to the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke. [Painters and etchers, such as Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), Karel van Mander (1548-1606) and Esaias van der Velde (1587-1630) had prepared the ground there in the second half of the 16th century.] In1656/57, Ruisdael settled in Amsterdam, at that time the centre of Dutch art dealers, and in 1659, he was granted citizenship of the town. There is documented evidence that he took a medical degree in CaŽn in 1676. The artist, who was highly respected and whose landscapes fetched high prices already in his lifetime, continued to serve as an example, especially for German Romanticists, well into the 19th century.
Norwegian Landscape with Waterfall
Bubbling and foaming, the water rushes along a course between oak-covered rocks to form a wide waterfall which fills the entire foreground. Staffage figures on the high rock on the right edge of the picture come nearer to watch the spectacle. A castle (Bentheim?) towers above rocky escarpments, touching the clouded sky and crowning the bleak autumn landscape. The height and width of the waterfall are balanced, as are the long-distance and close-up views. Waterfalls were a popular subject and frequently painted by the artist. In the fifties, Ruisdael painted his first mountain landscapes with the same motif. He himself had never been to high-mountain regions or to Scandinavia. He is thought to have taken the motif over from Allart van Everdingen (1621-1675), who travelled in Scandinavia in 1644. Ruisdael created imaginary scenes from a combination of different props. In his poetic landscapes, he followed the taste of the time in subordinating the natural model to aesthetic and contextually allegorical principles. A painting was supposed to both please and instruct. The fast-flowing, falling water, which sweeps along the entire trunks of oak trees, can be interpreted in Baroque terms as a symbol of man's transitory and ephemeral existence. Moreover, the highly popular subject of waterfalls offered ample opportunity to describe dramatic natural phenomena.
Gabriele Groschner, Thomas Habersatter, Erika Mayr-Oehring (Ed.): Masterworks. Residenzgalerie Salzburg. Salzburg 2002, p. 28