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Jacob van Ruisdael, A Ruined Castle Gateway

Key facts
Full title A Ruined Castle Gateway
Artist Jacob van Ruisdael
Artist dates 1628/9? - 1682
Date made about 1650-5
Medium and support Oil on oak stuck on to millboard, remounted on an oak panel
Dimensions 46.7 × 64.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2562
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Ruined Castle Gateway
Jacob van Ruisdael

Jacob van Ruisdael was the foremost seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painter, and even paved the way for the rural scenes Thomas Gainsborough painted in England in the eighteenth century. Gainsborough admired and made copies of van Ruisdael’s work, but rather than the pastoral views that appealed to the British artist, here, van Ruisdael’s vision is of a more unruly, turbulent landscape.

We are invited through the archway and yet there’s a warning. The dog appears unwilling to follow its owner into the ruin. The little girl holding the man’s hand looks up, as if enquiring why they are going into this eerie place and who the shadowy figure on the inside is. Van Ruisdael shows us a ruin in a landscape, but he is also creating a mood and appealing to our imagination.

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