Riverbank with a wooden aqueduct and view of a village


Jacob van RUISDAEL

Haarlem 1628/29 – 1682 Amsterdam

Riverbank with a wooden aqueduct and view of a village

Black chalk, brush in gray ink; brown ink framing lines.

157 x 233 mm (6-1/4 x 9-1/4 in)

WATERMARK: paschal lamb in shield with crown,

similar to Heawood nos. 2842-4 (Holland, dated 1648-51); nearly identical to Broos and Schapelhouman 1993, p. 271, cat. no. 183 (no date). (R27)

CHAIN LINES: horizontal, 25 mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: verso, in center Jacob van Ruysdael./ Ecole hollandaise. 1628-1682 (pencil); at upper left, encircled 2 (pencil); at center left 1119 (pen in brown ink); at lower left 20 (pencil).


PROVENANCE: Count “L. G.” (L. 1729), France.

Paul Mathey (1844-1929), Paris.

Alexis Vollon (1865-1945), Paris.

Loys H. Delteil (1869-1927), Paris, 1911 (letter dated 1 July 1911, giving earlier provenance).

Sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby’s, 11 November 1997, lot 128, acquired at the sale.

EXHIBITIONS: Robinson, Franklin W. and Peck, Sheldon. Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Drawings from the Peck Collection. Chapel Hill/ Ithaca/ Worcester. 1999-2001. Published catalogue.

This fascinating work provides an excellent comparison with other landscape drawings in this exhibition executed in the 1640s and 1650s.  This sheet, with its soft, broad strokes of black chalk and easy transitions from shadow to sunlight and back again, is very different from the sinuous, liquid shorthand of the late Jan van Goyen, or the more concentrated, even nervous intensity and detail of Pieter Molyn, the two great representatives of the preceding generation of landscape draftsmen.  Even the village scenes of Guillam Du Bois, who was probably influenced by Ruisdael, are characterized by staccato strokes and a muscular density that are different from Ruisdael’s more open touch.  At the same time, the present sheet is broader and more spontaneous in effect than Herman Naiwincx’s careful, delicate, almost fragile evocation of a lovely rustic corner or Adriaen Verboom’s picturesque, gnarled trunks surrounded by sprays of leaves, each one defined by dabs of gray wash.

The present drawing, from the late 1640s or early 1650s, is typical of Ruisdael’s synthesis of trees, water, buildings, clouds, light, and shadow, so evident, also, in the preceding work.  Theo Laurentius has pointed out that the construction in the left foreground is a hoist, balanced in the fork of the tree trunk, to lift fresh water into an elevated aqueduct to the building on the left, a brewery, tavern or inn.  Such a device is recorded by other artists, for example, Esaias van de Velde in several of his etchings and drawings.  The mechanics of construction always fascinated Ruisdael, from watermills to views of Amsterdam from building platforms.