Art/ Collection/ Art Object

A Country Road

Artist:
Salomon van Ruysdael (Dutch, Naarden, born ca. 1600–1603, died 1670 Haarlem)
Date:
1648
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
38 7/8 x 52 7/8 in. (98.7 x 134.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1906
Accession Number:
06.1201
Not on view
In this mature work Van Ruysdael seems to follow the advice given to painters by Karel van Mander in 1604: "But above all do not forget to put small figures under tall trees. . . Make the countryside, the town, and the water full of activity, the houses inhabited, and the roads traveled." The composition, with its curving forms focused on a low bridge and trees sweeping up to clouds, is typical of the late 1640s: similar designs were employed by the artist's famous nephew, Jacob van Ruisdael, and by other Haarlem landscapists such as Pieter Molijn.

In the center of this quietly colorful canvas, a coach and a wagon filled with travelers slowly make their way past a farmhouse. The roof on the rear half of the dwelling is tiled; its brick color (echoed in two of the cows) contrasts attractively with the foliage of the trees and of the arbor covering the thatched roof. Smoke wafts up from the chimney, suggesting that someone is inside cooking on this springlike day. Two riders and a dog approach the low bridge over the canal or stream; beyond them (in the area below the chimney), the mast of a small sailboat is visible. A freestanding dovecote is seen slightly farther to the left. Two cowherds, one of them on horseback, and a large dog accompany eight cows on the road leading to the right, where the view of a meadow and a distant village creates a sense of continuity with the immediate area and the more expansive countryside.

The composition is typical of the late 1640s in Ruysdael's oeuvre and in works from his artistic circle. Broadly similar designs were employed about 1647–50 by Jacob van Ruisdael, Isaack van Ruisdael (1599–1677), and Pieter de Molijn. Several pictures by Ruysdael seem to anticipate this one by a few years, for example Travelers Halting before an Inn, of 1644 (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles). In the late 1650s and early 1660s, Ruysdael appears to have recalled this composition in a number of pictures that often show travelers stopping at an inn.

[2016; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): S.vRVYSDAEL [vR in monogram] / 1648
sale, Amsterdam, April 17, 1809, no. 81, for fl. 20; Salomon Goldschmidt, Paris (until 1898; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 14–17, 1898, no. 96, as "Paysage et animaux," for Fr 8,000); [Sedelmeyer, Paris, in 1899; cat., 1899, no. 49, ill., as "Landscape and Animals"]; [Frederik Müller, Amsterdam, until 1906; sold to MMA]
Paris. Sedelmeyer. June 1901, no. 176 [see Stechow 1975].

Amsterdam. Frederik Muller & Cie. "Maîtres hollandais du XVIIe siècle," July 10–September 15, 1906, no. 112 (as "Grand paysage avec troupeau de vaches au premier plan").

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Hudson-Fulton Celebration," September–November 1909, no. 120.

University Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley. "Dutch Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 25, 1969–January 4, 1970, checklist no. 15 (with incorrect inscription and credit line).

Houston. Rice University. "Dutch Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 18–March 1, 1970, checklist no. 15.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner. The Hudson-Fulton Celebration: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1909, vol. 1, p. 121, no. 120, ill. opp. p. 121.

Joseph Breck. "L'art hollandais à l'exposition Hudson-Fulton à New York." L'art flamand & hollandais 13, no. 2 (1910), p. 59 [published in Dutch in Onze Kunst 17 (February 1910), p. 45].

Wolfgang Stechow. Salomon van Ruysdael: Eine Einführung in seine Kunst. Berlin, 1938, pp. 24–25, 91, no. 196.

Wolfgang Stechow. "Salomon van Ruysdael's Paintings in America." Art Quarterly 2 (1939), pp. 258, 260, 264 n. 13, fig. 4.

Denys Sutton, ed. Letters of Roger Fry. New York, 1972, vol. 1, p. 273 n. 2 to letter 203 (November 12, 1906).

Wolfgang Stechow. Salomon van Ruysdael: Eine Einführung in seine Kunst. 2nd, rev., expanded ed. Berlin, 1975, pp. 24–25, 98, no. 196.

Frances Spalding. Roger Fry: Art and Life. Berkeley, 1980, p. 94.

John Pope-Hennessy. "Roger Fry and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Oxford, China, and Italy: Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on his Eightieth Birthday. Ed. Edward Chaney and Neil Ritchie. London, 1984, p. 234.

Peter C. Sutton. Northern European Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: From the Sixteenth through the Nineteenth Century. Philadelphia, 1990, p. 282, fig. 99-1, under no. 99.

Walter A. Liedtke. "'Pentimenti' in our Pictures of Salomon van Ruysdael and of Jan van Goyen." Shop Talk: Studies in Honor of Seymour Slive. Ed. Cynthia P. Schneider et al. Cambridge, Mass., 1995, pp. 154, 157 n. 2.

Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 20–21.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 2, pp. 810–11, no. 186, colorpl. 186.



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