LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Jacob van Ruisdael: Master of Landscape, on view through September 18, 2005. Ranked with Rembrandt and Vermeer as one of the great masters of seventeenth-century Dutch painting, Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29-1682) painted some of the most dramatic and seductive landscapes in the history of art. LACMA presents the first American exhibition dedicated to Ruisdael since 1981 and the first ever to be seen on the West Coast. Organized by Seymour Slive, professor emeritus of Harvard University and the world’s leading authority on Ruisdael, the exhibition features 48 of the artist’s finest paintings. The selection includes many paintings from private collections that are being lent for the first time, such as the imposing Waterfall in a Mountainous Landscape with a Ruined Castle (Private Collection, United Kingdom). Other paintings from the collections of The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, including the famous Jewish Cemetery (Dresden), have rarely, if ever, been seen in the United States. The exhibition, accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue by Professor Slive, introduces new research and rediscovered works reflecting the author’s lifelong interest in the artist and his recently published catalogue raisonné of the more than 800 paintings, drawings and etchings by Jacob van Ruisdael (Yale, 2001).
Ruisdael’s unrivaled talent created some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes in the history of art, said LACMA president and director Andrea Rich. We are proud to bring this important exhibition to Los Angeles and spotlight this artist’s magnificent career. LACMA already boasts one of the top collections of Dutch masters in the United States, thanks in large part to the landmark gift in 2003 of twelve works by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Carter, which included Ruisdael’s The Great Oak.
Jacob van Ruisdael - Born in Haarlem into a family of artists, Jacob van Ruisdael was probably trained by his father, Isaac van Ruisdael (1599-1677), a painter, ebony frame maker, and picture dealer, and by his uncle, Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/3?-1670). During the 1630s, the years of Jacob’s training, Haarlem was the center of Dutch landscape painting; Salomon van Ruysdael was one of the innovators of a new style of Dutch landscape painting that emphasized tonality and realism. By lowering the horizon and limiting the palette to a monochromatic color range, these artists rejected the artificial, imaginary landscapes of the previous generation and created naturalistic impressions of the local Dutch countryside unified by an enveloping atmosphere. Although initially influenced by their work, Jacob van Ruisdael introduced stronger color, compositional accents and light to create a uniquely Baroque landscape. Like Rembrandt, Ruisdael used contrasts of light and shadow to dramatize his subjects and integrate his compositions. In his paintings, clouds sweeping across the sky cast shadows across the landscape while dramatically illuminating church towers, castles, or weathered trees. Majestic trees, battered by weather and age and precariously standing on rocky precipices, are among his recurrent subjects. A prodigious draftsman, Ruisdael relied on his carefully observed drawings to render views of specific locations and botanically accurate trees and vegetation, while increasingly orchestrating his compositions to create monumental and romantic, ultimately imaginative, images. Among Ruisdael’s recognizable subjects are the castle at Bentheim in nearby Westphalia and the views of the bleaching fields and distant skyline of Haarlem seen from a high dune. Ruisdael’s range of subject matter is wide, however, and includes the wooded dunes, sluices and country roads of the Dutch countryside, as well as icy winter scenes under steely skies and seascapes animated and integrated by storm-driven clouds. Among his most impressive works are the large Scandinavian views – images of landscapes Ruisdael never saw but knew about through the work of other painters. Under Ruisdael’s brush, however, his models are transformed and aggrandized. Placed above a mantelpiece in the homes of Dutch burghers, these large-scale paintings of water crashing over rocks and broken trees into the foreground, balanced by majestic fir trees silhouetted against the sky, would have made a powerful impression.