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Image of The Little Bridge

Jacob van Ruisdael (aka Jacob Van Ruisdael)
Dutch, about 1628–1629–1682

The Little Bridge


Object Type: Print
7 5/16 in. x 10 5/8 in. (18.57 cm x 26.99 cm)
Medium and Support: Etching on paper
Accession Number: 1971.0010

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Julian Wiener, Mrs. Stanley Newhouse, and James Loeb in honor of their father, Lucien S. Loeb

“The Little Bridge” (known by other titles including “The Cottage and Footbridge,” “The Rustic Cottage,” and “Le Petit Pont”) was made as part of what scholars believe to be a series of four etchings the artist created in the early 1650s. During that period, he made a trip to the Dutch-German border region that prompted a specific group of identifiable subjects including half-timbered cottages and water mills. As with his landscape paintings, Ruisdael was not creating a simple record of a natural scene in “The Little Bridge”. His contemporaries would have understood various elements of his paintings and prints as visual allegories, references to concepts such as the passage of time, and nature’s forces of regeneration. Time is made metaphorically manifest in the flowing stream, and in the decrepit state of the cottage that has succumbed to the ravages of time and nature. Van Ruisdael juxtaposes these elements of “memento mori,” (or reminders of man’s mortality), with suggestions that there are regenerative forces at work as well as destructive ones. The new shoots of foliage that spring from the fallen tree in the foreground remind the viewer that in the cycle of existence, new life will spring from the old.
The series is identified because of the similarly of size, style, and technique. See accessed October 7, 2013.

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