Jacob van Ruisdael
(Haarlem, Netherlands, about 1628–1629 – 1682, Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Van Ruisdael is considered one of the greatest landscape painters of the Dutch Baroque era, his paintings, drawings, and prints characterized by a heightened sense of naturalism. Ruisdael was the son of Isaack van Ruisdael (1599–1677) a Haarlem frame maker and art dealer, and the nephew of the landscape painter, Salomon van Ruisdael (ca. 1602–1670). It is likely that he learned the technical side of his trade from his family members.
He is known for increasingly elaborate painting compositions of landscapes of many types—woodlands, mountain, marine and river scenes primarily—and for his realistic rendering of natural forms, particularly trees and other flora. He became a member of the Haarlem painters’ guild in 1648, and created most of his paintings between the years 1646 and 1653. There are few paintings known after 1653, and by 1657 he had settled in Amsterdam where he lived the remainder of his life. Apparently there is a possibility that Van Ruisdael may have practiced a second career in Amsterdam: surviving documents suggest he received a medical degree in Caen in October of 1676, and that he performed surgery based on this medical training.
Most of the artist’s known work consists of paintings and drawings; he produced only a very small group of etchings. Van Ruisdael is believed to have made thirteen etchings in all, but it is not know from whom he learned the etching technique but he began to make prints early in his career. The earliest dated print is 1646, when he was only seventeen or eighteen years old. He apparently made no prints after 1655, and thus the thirteen known prints by the artist date from this brief period of activity.
See Peter Sutton, “Dutch and Flemish Seventeenth-Century Paintings from the Harold Samuel Collection,” (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992) 165, and http://www.knox.edu/library/special-collections-and-archives/exhibits/outside-the-shadow-of-rembrandt/ruisdael-cottage.html?ss=print accessed October 7, 2013.