Object Image

A Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Church

This, one of van Ruisdael's most famous paintings, is a bigger version of his An Extensive Landscape with Ruins, also in the National Gallery's collection. This sizeable picture was almost certainly painted on commission and was designed to hang in a very large room. Its size is matched by the sense of grandeur van Ruisdael has managed to create.

Although it is reminiscent of the countryside around Haarlem, where van Ruisdael grew up and trained as an artist, no one has been able to identify the main church or an exact location for the panorama. Most likely it was an idealised view, evoking and reflecting ideas that van Ruisdael and his customers had about how Holland should look. The productive nature of the landscape is represented by the shepherds, the corn and the windmill; a sense of history by the ruined castle. The church that dominates the horizon stood, in their eyes, for eternal certainty.

Credit: Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876

c. 1665-70
Oil on canvas
109.0 x 146.0cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2024

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