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Salomon van Ruysdael, 'A View of Rhenen seen from the West', 1648

Key facts
Full title A View of Rhenen seen from the West
Artist Salomon van Ruysdael
Artist dates 1600/3? - 1670
Date made 1648
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 30.5 × 41.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Nicholas A. Argenti with a life interest to Mrs Argenti, 1963
Inventory number NG6348
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A View of Rhenen seen from the West
Salomon van Ruysdael

Dawn is breaking over the town of Rhenen, but already the cows are alert, drinking in the river, and boats are moving upstream. The sweep of the clouds, the outward curve of the sails and the ripples on the water suggest a slight breeze. The Dutch flag lifts slightly on the boat closest to us. Salomon van Ruysdael has used a limited palette of muted, earthy colours here to convey the almost luminous quality of early morning light over a wide, flat landscape with an expanse of water.

In 1648, the year that the picture was painted, the Dutch won independence from the Spanish after some 80 years of conflict. A picture like this would have been appreciated for its skilfully depicted light and its beautifully balanced composition, but perhaps also for its tranquillity and sense of continuity – the return of peace and prosperity after the storms of war.

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