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Jacob van Ruisdael: 'A Ruined Castle Gateway'

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In the past the ruins were identified as the remains of the castle of Burgvliet in Bergen-op-Zoom, which had burned down in 1581. This identification was based on a drawing attributed to J.A. Beerstraten (London, British Museum). However, the argument is not very convincing as the resemblance is superficial and the drawing does not seem to represent the castle. Therefore, it is probably an invention of the artist. The ruins are picturesque in appearance and melancholy in atmosphere. Their decay may well be intended to remind the viewer of mortality and the folly of human ambitions.

A date in the early 1650s has been suggested.

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