Salomon van Ruysdael
(Naarden, ca. 1600-1670, Haarlem)
Riverbank with a Village, 164(5?)
Oil on panel, 64 x 93 cm
Signed with monogram & dated on the boat: S. vR 164(5?)
Stechow 512
Salomon, the uncle of the more dramatic Jacob van Ruisdael, is unmistakable among the Dutch painters. River landscapes like the one in the Bührle Collectioin were always his great theme. He constantly varied the simple compositional scheme (or inverted it): A still expanse of water fills the foreground of the picture and on one side extends to the far horizon; on the other side there is wedged in a stretch of bank with vegetation, farmsteads, haystacks and churches; a few tall trees soar up into a friendly sky and spread out in delicate silhouettes; rowingboats, sailboats or ferries animate the river, accompanied by their delicate reflections. Salomon’s colours are also unmistakable: summery light, not very vivid; also unmistakably his is the respectable painterly technique, which has ensured the good state of preservation of most of his paintings. In our picture the doublet of the man rowing the front boat with the large fish basket is reddish-brown: for the rest, the picture is dominated by green, blue, brown, grey and ivory yellow. Watery, silverygrey air muffles and unifies the tones. On the bank there is a haystack, a farm with an arbour, where some people are sitting, and, left behind the farm, a church. The elements of earth, air and water fuse almost imperceptibly. The brush is flexible, fluent and precise. The painting exhales refreshing coolness, spaciousness and rural seclusion. The painter has conjured a sober poetry out of a corner of nature. The date is rather uncertain; it was probably done in 1645, as a copy, clearly dated 1645, exists, sold on the English art market in 1938, since vanished.