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Salomon van Ruysdael

A River Landscape with Fishermen

Salomon van Ruysdael

Signed with monogram and dated, lower left
on the boat: SvR 1668
Oil on panel, 15⅝  x 21⅞ ins. (39.7 x 55.6 cm)



Private collection, Switzerland, since the beginning of the 20th century
Thence by descent in the family, until 2017
Sale, Koller, Zurich, 31 March 2017, lot 3038 (erroneously as ‘circle’ of Salomon van Ruysdael)


This richly coloured and beautifully preserved painting is an exceptionally fine example of the serene river landscapes for which Salomon van Ruysdael is justly famed.

The theme of the river landscape is one that Ruysdael painted many times during the course of his career. Salomon was known for this kind of painting as early as 1628, when Samuel van Ampzing mentioned him in his Beschryvinge ende lof der stad Haerlem (Description and praise of the town of Haarlem), and he painted such scenes throughout the rest of his career.  Everything from the light and atmosphere to the trees against the sky and the reflections in the water are handled with consummate skill and an exquisite freshness of handling.

Many of Ruysdael's subjects reflect his interest in the relationship between city and country life and of travel between them.  As with this painting, however, he explored the transitions almost exclusively from outside the city, where water, woodland, and sky dominate the view. While there is no documentary evidence of his travels, the range of his views suggests a familiarity either with the towns themselves or with topographical views of them.  In addition to Nijenrode, Ruysdael depicted Alkmaar, Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Arnhem, Deventer, Dordrecht, The Hague, Haarlem, Leiden, Naarden, Rhenen, Scheveningen, Utrecht, and, on one occasion, Brussels.

Ruysdael's works had an enormous impact on the tradition of landscape painting in Haarlem, and, in many ways, have come to represent the genre itself. Indeed, the present painting encompasses all that lovers of Dutch landscape admire about the tradition: the serenity of the subject matter, the scene's naturalistic appearance, and the extraordinary facility in the effects of light and air.  Together with Pieter Molijn (1595-1661) and Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Ruysdael revolutionised Dutch landscape painting with scenes such as this.


Salomon Jacobsz van Ruysdael was born in Naarden in Gooiland.  He was originally called Salomon de Gooyer (Goyer), but he and his brother Isaack (1599-1677), also an artist, adopted the name ‘Ruysdael’ from Castle Ruisdael (or Ruisschendael), near their father’s home town.  Salomon spelled his name Ruysdael (or occasionally Ruyesdael), as distinguished from his nephew Jacob, who used the name Ruisdael.

Together with Jan van Goyen (1596-1656) in Haarlem in the late 1620s and early 30s, as well the lesser known artists, Pieter van Santvoort (1604/5-1635) in Haarlem and Pieter de Molijn (1595-1661) in Amsterdam, Salomon van Ruysdael was one of the first to perfect the ‘tonal’ landscape style, which first unified naturalistic views with a restrained palette of earth hues and a pervasive atmosphere, usually applied to diagonal compositions.  Over the course of the 1630s and early 40s, van Goyen remained more closely wedded to the original tenets of tonalism, while Salomon introduced greater contrasts, more emphatic motifs, and more colour accents, which point the way to the ‘classical’ phase of landscape painting that would dominate Dutch landscape in the third quarter of the century. Salomon painted river views, dunescapes and winter scenes in this style.

Salomon entered the painters’ guild in Haarlem in 1623 (as Salomon de Gooyer), was named vinder of the guild in 1647, dean the following year, and a vinder again in 1669.  His earliest dated painting is of 1626.  In a document of 1651 he was also called a merchant, and dealt in blue dye for Haarlem’s bleacheries.  Like his father, Salomon was a Mennonite and was listed as such when he was living on the Kleyne Houtstraat in 1669.  His religion forbad him to bear arms but he contributed to Haarlem’s civic guard.  Although he seems to have lived in Haarlem all his life, he undoubtedly travelled in the country; his paintings depict scenes in, among other places, Leiden, Utrecht, Amersfoort, Arnhem, Alkmaar, Rhenen, Dordrecht and Weesp. 
Although Salomon’s teacher is unknown, his earliest works of c.1626-29 recall the art of Esaias van de Velde (1587-1630), who worked in Haarlem from 1609-1618.  Salomon’s early works also show many parallels with the landscapes of Jan van Goyen and Pieter de Molijn and it is likely that all three influenced one another.  In addition to numerous landscapes, river views and seascapes of calm – never stormy – weather, Salomon also painted a few still lifes in his later years.  Salomon was the father of Jacob Salomonsz. van Ruysdael (c.1629/30-1681), also a painter.

Salomon van Ruysdael

Naarden 1600/03 – 1670 Haarlem

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