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Jacob van Ruisdael, A Cottage and a Hayrick by a River

Key facts
Full title A Cottage and a Hayrick by a River
Artist Jacob van Ruisdael
Artist dates 1628/9? - 1682
Date made about 1646-50
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 26 × 33.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2565
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Cottage and a Hayrick by a River
Jacob van Ruisdael

This is an early work by Jacob van Ruisdael, probably made when he was only about 20 years old, around the time that he qualified as an artist and joined the painters’ guild in his home town of Haarlem. He has built the composition around a stand of scrubby trees and a farmhouse on the edge of a river – and made it all the more artistically challenging by choosing a backlit scene. While this increases the visual impact of the trees against a bright sky, it required him to evoke the effects of light filtering through them.

If you look closely at the brushwork here, you can see the techniques that van Ruisdael used to create a convincing effect. He has built up an impression of the myriad colours of the leaves with thousands of tiny dabs and smudges of different greens, browns and yellows, as well as a few tiny flecks of white.

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