Sunday, June 2, 2013

Painting of the Day: A Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Church, Jacob Van Ruisdael, 1665-70

Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Church
Jacob Van Ruisdael, 1665-1670
The National Gallery, Britain
Inspired by a view he’d seen in the Dutch town of Haarlem, celebrated landscape painter produced one of his most famous paintings. A Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Churchwas such a well-received scene that Van Ruisdael repainted the landscape in several smaller versions.

Here, he shows his mastery of composition. The banks of clouds balance the painting while a diagonal slash of sky simultaneously draws the viewer into the painting and stops the viewer’s gaze at the spire of the church as it appears to pierce the sky. Van Ruisdael was careful to give the painting a natural scale. By incorporating the human figures (probably painted by another artist) into the canvas, he’s given us a sense of the epic sweep of the land.

This painting as well as some of the variations on it are on display at the National Gallery in London.

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