Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Scandinavian Landscape with a Waterfall

Jacob van Ruisdael’s Scandinavian waterfall paintings are partly remarkable because, as Seymour Slive says in his guide to the Royal Academy’s Jacob van Ruisdael exhibition, Ruisdael “never laid eyes on such scenes. His motifs for them were derived from Allart van Everdingen, a Dutch artist who visited Norway and Sweden in 1644 and returned to Holland with a stock of Nordic themes for use in his works. In the late 1650s and early 1660s, when Ruisdael began to paint rushing torrents in rocky mountainous northern valleys studded with conifers, he followed Everdingen’s example closely.” The exhibition includes the large Waterfall in a Mountainous Landscape with a Ruined Castle (c1665-70), which is in a private collection. The Fogg Art museum has another famous example, Waterfall with a Half-Timbered House and Castle.
On his trip to Scandinavia Allaert van Everdingen (1621-75) visited the south-eastern coast of Norway and the area of western Sweden around Göteborg. As Slive writes in Dutch Painting 1600-1800, there is no reason to believe he ever returned, even though he received a commission to paint the Trip family’s Cannon Foundry at Julitabroeck in Södermanland, Sweden. An example of the kind of Scandinavian landscape by Everdingen that inspired Ruisdael is the Munich Alte Pinakothek’s Scandinavian Landscape with a Waterfall (1650) (unfortunately the image doesn’t seem to be available on-line - PS: since writing this post the image below has become available).

Allaert van Everdingen, Swedish Landscape with Waterfall, 1650-1675
Everdingen’s work would also have an influence on Scandinavian landscape painting: another later artist who admired him was the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1837). Contemporary critics described Dahl as ‘the new Everdingen’. According to Andrew Graham-Dixon, Dahl’s training involved “seven years in the Danish capital, where he was taught principally by Christian August Lorentzen, a run-of-the-mill painter who encouraged him to study the many Dutch masterpieces in the Danish royal collection. 'The landscape painters I learn from are Ruisdael and Everdingen,' Dahl wrote in 1812. 'But first and foremost I study nature - a pity there are no cliffs and water here, but then one has to do with fountain water.'”

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