Jacob Isaacsz van Ruisdael

The Banks of a River

About this artwork

This is an imaginative panoramic river scene based on studies made from nature. The large expanse of sky, and the contrast between the wooded hillside and the open view of the river and its opposite bank contribute to the scene’s spacious grandeur. The distant town, inspired by Ruisdael’s drawings of the town of Rhenen, on the Rhine, includes the distinctive tower of the church of St Cunera and the twin towers of the watergate. The figures were probably painted by his friend Nicolaes Berchem or by Philips Wouwerman. Collaboration between Dutch artists with different specialities was not uncommon.

  • title:
    The Banks of a River
  • accession number:
    NGL 033.84
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • date created:
    1649
  • measurements:
    134.00 x 193.00 cm (framed: 174.00 x 232.00 x 18.20 cm)
  • credit line:
    Sir James Erskine of Torrie Bequest to the University of Edinburgh 1835, deposited on loan 1845 with the Royal Institution; loan transferred to the National Gallery 1859
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve

Jacob Isaacsz van Ruisdael

Jacob Isaacsz van Ruisdael

Ruisdael was one of the most remarkable and influential landscape painters in seventeenth-century Holland. He extended the scope of contemporary landscape themes to include wooded scenes, rivers and waterfalls, as well as beach and dune scenes, seacapes and panoramic vistas. Obviously based on a close study of nature, Ruisdael’s paintings always appear believable and natural in their composition, treatment of light and lifelike colouring. They frequently show typically Dutch scenes, thereby celebrating the richness of landscapes in Holland. Ruisdael’s work influenced eighteenth and nineteenth century landscape painting in Britain. Admiration for his paintings, prints and drawings inspired landscape studies by Gainsborough, Wilson, Constable and Turner.