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

The Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede

c. 1670
Oil on canvas, 83 x 101 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

A Dutch landscape consists essentially of sky dominating low-lying land, where water (whether it be the sea or some canal) frequently reflects the clouds. In the work of Ruisdael the feeling of infinity, in which man seems lost, attains a Pascalian gravity.

In this painting the sky responds in its cloud formations to the mighty wings of the windmill. As in Rembrandt's mature phase, which is approximately contemporaneous, this landscape shows classical elements which strengthen the compositional power. Horizontals and verticals are coordinated with the Baroque diagonals, which are still alive and help to create a mighty spaciousness. The atmospheric quality is as important as ever in uniting the whole impression. Light breaks now with greater intensity through the clouds and the clouds themselves gain in substance and volume. The sky forms a gigantic vault above the earth, and it is admirable how almost every point on the ground and on the water can be related to a corresponding point in the sky.