RUISDAEL, Jacob Isaackszon van
(b. ca. 1628, Haarlem, d. 1682, Amsterdam)

Landscape with a House in the Grove

about 1646
Oil on canvas, 105 x 162 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Ruisdael is one of the exceptional painters who appears on the scene as a precocious complete master. He was active as an independent artist before he was inscribed as a member of the Haarlem guild in 1648. More than a dozen of his works are signed and dated 1646, when he was a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old teenager, and in the following year the number increases.

In these early works there is no fumbling or groping. On the contrary, from the beginning he surpasses his models by his ability to enlarge a detail of nature into central motif. The sand dunes and clumps of trees around his native town which were his favourite subjects during these years are rendered with loving care and from the moment we recognize his hand until his last years he gave unprecedented meticulous attention to arboreal details. He was the first artist to depict a variety of trees that are consistently and unequivocally recognizable to the botanist on account of their overall habit.