This well-preserved picture is one of a number that Van Ruysdael painted in Haarlem about 1650, following Jan van Goyen's somewhat earlier example. The sailboat flying the Dutch flag is a "schouw," a shallow-draft vessel used to ship goods and carry occasional passengers on inland water-ways.
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Artist:Salomon van Ruysdael (Dutch, Naarden, born ca. 1600–1603, died 1670 Haarlem)
Medium:Oil on wood
Dimensions:13 5/8 x 17 1/8 in. (34.6 x 43.5 cm)
Credit Line:Purchase, 1871
"A sloop tumbles across a bay; and the toss of the boat, the pulse of the water, the whistle of the breeze, the moist gray light, seem to generate a kind of saline aroma." Henry James's description (1872), and Louis Decamps's of the same year—"chef d'oeuvre de finesse et du mouvement, si délicatement accentué"—beautifully convey the appeal of this small picture and a number of similar views painted by Ruysdael about 1650. The subject is transport on a river (not a bay), with a village on the left bank. To the right of the church (a Late Gothic structure of a type common in Holland) are a cluster of houses and two sailboats at the water's edge. On the right bank, a boat with lowered sails is moored by a farmhouse; nearby sheep graze in a meadow. The church with a central tower in the right background resembles Saint Bavo's in Haarlem, which suggests that the river is perhaps meant to recall the Spaarne on the city's south side.
The sailboat in the foreground, flying the Dutch flag, is a schouw, one of a few types of shallow-draft vessel that were used to ship goods and occasionally passengers between towns on the inland waterways. Similar boats round the bend in the distance. The expanse of space is indicated both by the boat in the middle ground and by the transition from the shadowed, rippled water in the foreground to the smooth, glistening surface upriver. The vertical motif of the schouw and the long recession from it to the boats in the right background are echoed softly in the billowing clouds, subtly enhancing the sweep of wind throughout the entire scene. The keystone of the composition, the boat is crowned by a high patch of white cloud embellished with seagulls flying aloft. On the painted surface, the thin green line of landscape, which resembles piping on a satin jacket, gains depth from the firm white streaks just above the horizon. These contrast with the gray blue strokes that suggest dark shadows under the closer clouds.
Comparable river views, filled almost entirely by sky and water, were painted by Jan van Goyen beginning in the late 1630s. The choppy water and other features found in Van Goyen's early pictures suggest that he was inspired by Jan Porcellis (before 1584–1632), to whom he sold a house in 1629. This type of composition became especially common about 1650 in the work of Van Goyen, Van Ruysdael, and their minor followers, such as Willem van Diest (before 1610–in or after 1668) and his son Jeronimus van Diest (1634?–in or after 1677) at The Hague.
As noted by Stechow (Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century, London, 1966, p. 57), these river scenes have a "marine appearance"; for New York or New England viewers, such topography resembles the shorelines of Long Island Sound. The title, Marine, was given to The Met's picture in the 1871 Purchase and is retained here in deference to early admirers such as Henry James.
[2016; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right, on plank): SvR [vR in monogram]·1650
Maximilian I, King of Bavaria (until d. 1825; inv., n.d.?, no. 126; sale, Munich, December 5, 1826, no. 6, for 266 florins); Dr. Rinecker, Würzburg (until 1868; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 30, 1868, no. 48, for Fr 1,100 to Reiset); comte Cornet de Ways Ruart, Brussels (until d. 1870); [Étienne Le Roy, Brussels, and Léon Gauchez, Paris, 1870]; William T. Blodgett, Paris (from 1870; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, Paris, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1870–71; sold to The Met)
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century," November 15–29, 1931, unnumbered cat. (p. 7).
University Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley. "Dutch Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 25, 1969–January 4, 1970, checklist no. 16.
Houston. Rice University. "Dutch Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 18–March 1, 1970, checklist no. 16.
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.
G. Parthey. Deutscher Bildersaal. Vol. 2, L–Z. Berlin, 1864, p. 464, no. 42, as in the Rinecker collection, Würzburg.
Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart. Etchings of Pictures in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. London, 1871, pl. , as by Van Goyen.
Louis Decamps. "Un musée transatlantique (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 5 (May 1872), p. 435, as from the collection of Maximilian I of Bavaria.
[Henry James]. "Art: The Dutch and Flemish Pictures in New York." Atlantic Monthly 29 (June 1872), pp. 760–61 [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye," London, 1956, pp. 59, 61–62].
Emil Kegel. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: New-York, das Metropolitan-Museum." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 7 (1884), p. 460, states that it depicts the mouth of the Maas [Meuse] river.
F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 76.
Wolfgang Stechow. Salomon van Ruysdael: Eine Einführung in seine Kunst. Berlin, 1938, pp. 27, 101, no. 292, includes provenance information.
Wolfgang Stechow. "Salomon van Ruysdael's Paintings in America." Art Quarterly 2 (1939), pp. 259–60, 264 n. 20, fig. 7, dates it to the first half of the 1650s.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 88.
Wolfgang Stechow. Salomon van Ruysdael: Eine Einführung in seine Kunst. 2nd, rev., enl. ed. Berlin, 1975, pp. 27, 111–12, no. 288A, fig. 55, as dated 1650, a previous reading as 1660 being improbable.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 9, 12, 331–32, fig. 9.
Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 191.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 309, ill.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 172, 181, 197, 219, 245, appendix 1A no. 150, ill. p. 219 and fig.19.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 5, 7.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 2, pp. 814–16, 819, 917, 945, no. 188, colorpl. 188.
Old Master & British Paintings. Christie's, London. July 3, 2012, p. 84, fig. 1 (color), under no. 23.
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