The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rocky Landscape
  • Jacob van Ruisdael (1628 - 1682)
  • Rocky Landscape
  • Netherlands
  • 1650s
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 102.8 x 125.2 cm
  • Signature: 'JVR' in monogram
  • P50
  • East Galleries I
Further Reading
  • Nephew of the landscape painter Salomon van Ruysdael, Jacob van Ruisdael initially painted dunescapes and views of Holland, and later developed ambitious landscapes with strong central motifs, such as this one. He was particularly successful at conveying the majesty and power of nature, investing many landscapes with an emotional, poetic dimension. Generally considered by later critics to be the greatest of all Dutch landscape painters, he had many pupils and followers, including Meindert Hobbema. His ability to capture the various moods of nature profoundly influenced artists such as Gainsborough, Constable and the Barbizon School in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The ambitious scale of Rocky Landscape has led some authors to propose allegorical interpretations of the picture. The splintered trees and dramatic sky which overwhelm the tiny figures and cottages suggest the insignificance of man next to nature. The flowering bush by the dead tree and the waterfall itself have both been interpreted as vanitas motifs, reminding the spectator of the fragility of human life. The subject may owe something to the rocky waterfalls of Allart Van Everdingen (see Landscape with Waterfall, P113).