Landscape with the Ruins of the Castle of Egmond

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Jacob van Ruisdael
Dutch, c.1628-1682

Landscape with the Ruins of the Castle of Egmond, 1650/55

Oil on canvas
38 7/8 x 51 3/8 in. (98 x 130 cm)
Inscribed in lower right: JVR in ligature
Potter Palmer Collection, 1947.475

The heroic but ephemeral constructions of humankind and the enduring power and grandeur of nature are evocatively expressed in this work by the landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael. A shepherd and his flock are dwarfed by the towering ruins of Egmond, the long, massive hill behind it, and the dark, swollen clouds gathering above. Ruisdael’s skillful use of color also enhances the painting’s poetic effect. Other than the glowing terracotta of the ruins and the restrained use of creamy whites, his palette consists mostly of the dark greens and browns of nature. There is only one small point of bright color in the entire painting: the shepherd’s red jacket. Although Ruisdael’s choice of ruins as his subject followed an established pictorial tradition in the Netherlands, he was not concerned with overall topographical accuracy; indeed, the prominent hill behind the structure was a product of his imagination. The castle, once the seat of the counts of Egmond, had powerful associations. It was destroyed at the command of the Prince of Orange to prevent the Spanish army from occupying it during the Dutch struggle for independence from Spanish rule in the late sixteenth century.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2009, p. 199.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Berlin, Kaiser-Friedrich-Museums-Verein, Palais Redern, Ausstellung von Werken alter Kunst aus dem Privatbesitz der Mitglieder des Kaiser-Friedrich-Museums-Verein, 1906, no. 117, ill.

Rotterdam, J. Goudstikker, Collection Goudstikker 36, 22 December 1928 - 6 January 1929; Amsterdam, 12 January - 28 February 1929, no. 67.

London, Thomas Agnew and Sons, An Exhibition of the Von Auspitz Collection of Old Masters by courtesy of Herr Walter Bachstitz, (November-December 1932) p. 16, no. 27.

The Hague, Mauritshuis, Jacob van Ruisdael, 1 October 1981 - 3 January 1982; Cambridge, Mass., Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 18 January 1982 - 11 April 1982, no. 19, p. 64-66.

London, Philadelphia and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Jacob van Ruidael, Master of Landscape, June 26–September 18, 2005; traveled to Philadelphia, Museum of Art, October 23, 2005–February 5, 2006; London, Royal Academy or Arts, February 25–June 4, 2006, no. 18.

Publication History

Theodor Frimmel, Kleine Galeriestudien (Bamberg, 1891/92), p. 261.

Ruisdael: Masters in Art, vol. 8 (Boston, 1907): 83, listed only.

Wilhelm Bode. Die Sammlung Oscar Huldschinsky (Berlin, 1908) no. 26.

C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, vol. IV (London, 1912) pp. 22-3, no. 51.

Jakob Rosenberg, Jacob van Ruisdael (Berlin, 1928) pp. 20-1, 74, no. 34, pl. 18, fig. 31.

Paul Cassirer and Hugo Helbing, Die Sammlung Oscar Huldschinsky (Berlin, 1928) p. 52, no. 29, pl. 25.

“Die Sammlung Huldschinsky,” Pantheon 1 (1928) pp. 128, 130 (ill).

P. Wescher, “Berlin,” Pantheon 1 (1928), p. 327.

“Berlin. Collection Oscar Huldschinsky” La Revue d’Art 29 (July–December 1928), p. 95.

Bulletin of the Bachstitz Gallery (The Hague, 1929) pp. 36-7.

Axel L. Romdahl, “Barock, Kontrabarock och Akademism,” Tidskrift for Konstvetenskay 20 (1937) pp. 39-40, 44 (ill.).

J. G. N. Reynaud, “De iconographie van het slot te Egmond,” Maandblad voor beeldende Kunst 17 (1940), pp. 339–41.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago. A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961) pp. 408-9, ill. p. 193.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (London and New York, 1970) pp. 260, 285 (ill.).

Yuri Kouznetsov, “Sur le symbolisme dans les paysages du Jacob van Ruisdael,” Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 14 (1973), p. 35.

The Art Institute of Chicago. 100 Masterpieces. Chicago, 1978, no. 23 (1983 reprint, pl. 23).

John D. Morse, Old Master Paintings in North America (New York, 1979), p. 250.

J. Ashbery, “Master of Land and Sky,” Newsweek (February 15, 1982), p. 7.

Peter Ashton, Alice I. Davies and Seymour Slive, “Jacob van Ruisdael’s Trees,” Arnoldia 42, no. 1 (1982), p. 19, pl. 19.

Robert Hughes, “Opening a Path to Natural Vision. A unique retrospective of Ruisdael at the Fogg,” Time (March 29, 1982) p. 60, ill.

Carter Ratcliff, “Ruisdael’s Northern Prospects,” Art in America 70, no. 4 (April 1982) p. 96 (ill.).

Peter C. Sutton, A Guide to Dutch Art in America (Grand Rapids, Michigan1986) pp. 49, 51, fig. 68.

George Keyes, review of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fogg Art Museum, Landscape in Perspective: Drawings by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries, in Master Drawings 27 (1989), pp. 168–9.

Seymour Silve, "Additions to Jacob van Ruisdael," Burlington Magazine 133 (1991), p. 598, n. 2.

Seymour Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings (New Haven, 2001) pp. 44-5, no. 29.

Ownership History

Baron de Beurnonville, sold, Paris, Hotel Drouot, May 9, 1881, no. 451 (10,000 Francs, erroneously called Ruins of the Castle of Brederode). G. von Ráth, Budapest. P & D. Colnaghi, London, by 1906; sold by Colnaghi to Oscar Huldschinsky (died 1930), Berlin, by 1908 [see Bode 1908]; offered for sale, Cassirer, Berlin, 10-11 May 1928, no. 29, bought in at 61,000 marks [according to Rosenberg 1928 and La Revue d'Art 1928, p. 95]. Galerie Goudstikker, Rotterdam and Amsterdam by December 1928 to at least February 1929 [when exhibited in Amsterdam]. Kurt Walter Bachstitz, Berlin, by 1929 [based upon its position as G95 and Ru1356 in the Bachstitz archive at the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague and Bulletin of the Bachstitz Gallery 1929; despite the title of the exhibition at Agnew’s in 1932, it was apparently not part of the Von Auspitz collection]. Paul Cassirer, Ltd., London, 1947, as agent for an anonymous family, with Otto Reichenheim, Canfield Gardens, London, as intermediary [correspondence of Greta Ring, director of Cassirer’s London Gallery with Daniel Catton Rich and with Otto Reichenheim ; copies in curatorial file]; sold to the Art Institute, 1947.