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Salomon van Ruysdael, River Scene

Key facts
Full title River Scene
Artist Salomon van Ruysdael
Artist dates 1600/3? - 1670
Date made 1632
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 51.5 × 96.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss I.E.H. Cuming Butler, 1972
Inventory number NG6419
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
River Scene
Salomon van Ruysdael

The soft greys and browns of this painting reflect an effort among artists in early seventeenth-century Haarlem to experiment with how restricted use of colour could intensify the atmosphere and reality of a landscape.

Van Ruysdael uses the diagonal spit of land to show distance – it narrows as it runs away from us. The limpid waters of the river drift across the foreground, curve round, and slowly disappear out towards the sea. The low horizon opens up into a vast sky and van Ruysdael echoes the feathery pompoms of the alder trees in the puffed shapes of the dark grey clouds overhead.

This is an imaginary scene, painted in the artist’s studio, though van Ruysdael would have based his picture on sketches made in the countryside around Haarlem, where he lived.

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