About this artwork
The heroic but ephemeral edifices 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 ruins of a castle, a massive hill in the background, and dark, swollen clouds gathering overhead. Ruisdael’s skillful use of color also enhances the painting’s poetic effect. Other than the glowing terra-cotta of the ruins and the restrained use of creamy whites, his palette consists mostly of the greens and browns of nature. There is only one small point of bright color in the entire painting: the shepherd’s red jacket. Although the artist’s choice of ruins as his subject followed an established pictorial tradition in the Netherlands, he was not concerned with 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.
- Jacob van Ruisdael
- Landscape with the Ruins of the Castle of Egmond
- Oil on canvas
- Inscribed in lower right: JVR in ligature
- 98 × 130 cm (38 7/8 × 51 3/8 in.)
- Potter Palmer Collection