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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Jacob van Ruisdael, Dutch (Haarlem 1628/29 - 1682 Amsterdam)
Trees and a Cottage at the Edge of a Road
Work Type
c. 1648-1655
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Black chalk on light tan antique laid paper, framing lines in brown ink and black chalk
15.3 x 19.7 cm (6 x 7 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower right, brown ink: J. Ruijsdael
  • watermark:
    Fragment of a foolscap with a seven-pointed collar; variant of Hinterding, vol. 2, p. 138, A–c (1633) and A–e (1656)
  • inscription: verso, lower right, black chalk: Collection Hippert, Bruxelles / 1919 / ...[illegible]
  • inscription: verso, upper left, black chalk: CI LXII Paysage
  • inscription: verso, upper right, black chalk: No 1...
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: ...759 / Ruisdael
  • inscription: verso, lower right, black chalk: Meissner
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, blue ink, stamp: L. 1377 (Theodore-Charles-Louis Hippert)
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • inscription: verso, lower center, black chalk: Ruys...
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: ESSSX


Recorded Ownership History
The "J. Ruijsdael" collector, by 1690. Théodore-Charles-Louis Hippert, Brussels (L. 1377, verso, lower center). Mr. and Mrs. C. Benedict, Berlin and Paris. Kurt Meissner, Zurich, sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1981 (L. 3306, verso, lower right); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, 2008.251.

Published Text

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums
William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016)

Catalogue entry no. 78 by William W. Robinson:

The most original and versatile landscapist of the Dutch Golden Age, Jacob van Ruisdael produced a large oeuvre of some seven hundred pictures.2 His work left an indelible mark on nearly every category defined by Wolfgang Stechow in his classic study of seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painting: dunes and country roads; rivers and canals; forests; imaginary alpine and Nordic views; panoramas; winter scenes; beaches; townscapes; and marines.3

About 140 drawings by Van Ruisdael have come down to us.4 Most are executed in black chalk or black chalk and gray wash. They include summary sketches from nature as well as more carefully finished sheets that might have been intended for sale or simply as a detailed record of a motif. About thirty may be characterized as preliminary studies for painted compositions, and six served as models for Abraham Bloteling’s etched views of Amsterdam and the Portuguese-Jewish cemetery at Ouderkerk.5

The Harvard drawing belongs to a group of more than thirty sketches by Van Ruisdael that are closely related in format, composition, and technique. Nearly all of these sheets originally measured approximately 150 × 200 mm and were executed primarily in black chalk, in some cases worked up with ink or a light gray wash. A few were embellished with gray wash by a later hand. None bear autograph dates, but they can be assigned to the period from about 1648 to the middle of the 1650s.6 Some represent identifiable sites in or near Amsterdam, where Van Ruisdael—who spent the first decade of his career in his native Haarlem—settled by June 1657.7 The attribution of the group to Van Ruisdael rests on secure foundations: three sheets are signed with the artist’s monogram (Fig. 1), and he adapted the compositions of four others for paintings.8 At least seventeen of the black-chalk sketches—about half of those that survive—remained together after the artist’s death; they were annotated in ink, J. Ruijsdael, by the same dealer or collector. The inscription, which appears at the lower right of the Harvard sheet, dates from before circa 1690.9

The Harvard sketch, with its densely packed composition, close view of the main motif, and loose handling of the chalk, is a characteristic example of this group of Van Ruisdael’s drawings. At the left, a cottage nestles behind a bank, nearly obscured by trees and bushes. Two figures trudge along the road, which skirts a pool of water in the center foreground. Van Ruisdael evoked the translucency of the clouds and shadows by dragging the soft chalk over the uneven surface of the paper, and in some shaded areas by blending the strokes into a continuous gray tone. Scattered dark accents added with a sharper chalk emphasize prominent details, such as the birds, brush, and fallen tree in the left foreground and the branches and leaves of the central trees. The saw-tooth lines with which he outlined the foliage are a recurrent technical trait of the artist’s black-chalk sketches.

Seymour Slive proposed that the Harvard drawing belongs among the earlier works in the group and probably dates to the late 1640s. As evidence of the dating, he cited the close view and diagonal organization of the landscape; the convoluted foreground motifs; the airy, atmospheric effects; and the absence of the structural accents that occur in the later sketches.10


1 (This note refers to the provenance.) Seymour Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings (New Haven, Connecticut and London, 2001), p. 492, on the “J Ruijsdael Collector.”

2 Ibid., cats. 1–694, pp. 11–489.

3 Wolfgang Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century (London, 1966), chapters 1–6.

4 Slive, cats. D1–D136, pp. 493–590, and cat. SD137, p. 788. An unpublished drawing came to light at Sotheby’s, London, 4 July 2012, lot 93.

5 See Slive, pp. 491–92, on the function of Ruisdael’s drawings, and, for the drawings etched by Bloteling, Slive, cats. D17, D32, D60, D61, D102, and D103.

6 Slive, pp. 491–92. Jeroen Giltaij first assembled the group, cataloguing seventeen drawings (Jeroen Giltaij, “De Tekeningen van Jacob van Ruisdael,” Oud Holland, vol. 94, 1980: 141–208, pp. 148–50), which Slive expanded to more than thirty works.

7 Slive, cats. D2, D13, D96, D97, and D122.

8 In ibid., cats. D74, D100, and D134 are signed with the artist’s monogram, and cats. D34, D35, D70, and D122 served as preliminary studies for paintings. Landscape with a Fallen Tree (Fig. 1) is in Paris, Musée du Louvre, Collection Edmond de Rothschild, 606 DR/recto. Black chalk, gray wash. 141 × 190 mm; Slive, cat. D100, p. 567.

9 Slive (ibid., p. 492, n. 7) lists seventeen works that bear the J. Ruijsdael inscription, all but one belonging to the group of black-chalk sketches. His list does not include his cat. SD137, p. 788, which came to light while his book was in press; that sheet also bears the inscription and is part of the black-chalk group. See also Benjamin P. J. Broos, “‘Notitie der Teekeningen van Sybrand Feitama’ III: De verzameling van Sybrand I Feitama (1620–1701) en van Isaac Feitama (1666–1709),” Oud Holland, vol. 101, no. 3 (1987): 171–217, pp. 176 and 199, and Slive, p. 492 (n. 8), for Broos’s discovery that the J. Ruisdael inscription was added to the drawings before circa 1690. Slive observed (p. 492, n. 7) that at least one drawing bearing this inscription is not by Van Ruisdael himself but by a follower.

10 Seymour Slive, “An Unpublished Drawing by Jacob van Ruisdael,” in Essays in Northern European Art Presented to Egbert Haverkamp‑Begemann (Doornspijk, Netherlands, 1983): 249–50, p. 250, and Slive (2001), cat. D27, p. 514.


Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Seymour Slive, "An Unpublished Drawing by Jacob van Ruisdael", Essays in Northern European Art Presented to Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, pp., Davaco Publishers (Doornspijk, 1983), pp. 249-50, p. 250, repr. figs. 1 and 2
  • Seymour Slive, "Additions to Jacob van Ruisdael", Burlington Magazine (September 1991), vol. 133, no. 1062, pp. 598-606, p. 604 (n. 31)
  • William W. Robinson, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., H. O. Zimman, Inc. (Lynn, MA, 1991), cat. no. 38, pp. 94-5, repr.
  • George S. Keyes, "[Review] Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings. A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection", Master Drawings (Winter 1992), vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 443-448, p. 448
  • Marian Bisanz-Prakken, Die Landschaft im Jahrhundert Rembrandts, exh. cat., Albertina (Vienna, 1993), under cat. nos. 57-8, p. 102 (n. 5)
  • Marian Bisanz-Prakken, Drawings from the Albertina: Landscape in the Age of Rembrandt, exh. cat., Art Services International (Alexandria, Virginia, 1995), under cat. nos. 49-50, p. 106 (n. 6)
  • Seymour Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2001), cat. no. D27, p. 514, repr., and p. 492 (n. 7), repr. p. 491, Fig. Drawings a (detail)
  • Seymour Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: Master of Landscape, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts (London, England, 2005), p. 168 (n. 5)
  • Annemarie Stefes, Niederländische Zeichnungen 1450-1850: Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle, ed. Andreas Stolzenburg and Hubertus Gaßner, Böhlau Verlag (Cologne, 2011), vol. 2, under cat. no. 900, p. 485
  • William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), cat. no. 78, pp. 263-265, repr. p. 264; watermark p. 380
  • Joanna Sheers Seidenstein and Susan Anderson, ed., Crossroads: Drawing the Dutch Landscape, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2022), pp. 45, 231-232, repr. p. 46 as fig. 11

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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