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A Landscape with a Waterfall and a Castle on a Hill
Jacob van Ruisdael

Heavy, rain-dark clouds loom over a rugged landscape of scrubby trees, crags and three pines dramatically silhouetted against the sky. Right in the centre of the picture, a river emerges black and mirror-like from a fold in the hills, transforming into a seething cauldron as it tips over a rock ledge.

Van Ruisdael seems to be contrasting the immense energy of the tumbling water and the upright strength of the three towering pines with the human impact on this environment. We can make out the faint outline of a church tower on the left, and the grey turret of what seems to be a ruined castle is half hidden by trees and bushes on the right. But unless we look carefully, we hardly notice these buildings, nor the tiny figures on the path in the foreground. In this craggy wildness, the artist seems to be implying, there are far greater forces at work.

Key facts
Artist Jacob van Ruisdael
Artist dates 1628/9? - 1682
Full title A Landscape with a Waterfall and a Castle on a Hill
Date made probably 1660-70
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 101 x 86 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Johann Moritz Oppenheim, 1864
Inventory number NG737
Location in Gallery Not on display
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