Dose of Art #180: Jacob van Ruisdael – Landscape with Windmills near Haarlem (1650)

Landscape with Windmills near Haarlem by Jacob van Ruisdael (1651)

Van Ruisdael was a Dutch painter in the Dutch Golden age and is considered to be the pre-eminent landscape artist of that period. His legacy goes beyond the paintings he left as he was of great influence of the landscape painters that came after him like Thomas Gainsborough, J. M. W. Turner, and John Constable. The last one even made a copy of the Landscape with windmills in 1830 with darker clouds. Over the years critics have varied in their opinion of landscape paintings and thus also of Ruisdael. While Johann Wolfgang von Goethe appreciated him as a thinking artist, even a poet, saying “he demonstrates remarkable skill in locating the exact point at which the creative faculty comes into contact with a lucid mind”, while Henry Fuseli, professor at the Royal Academy, expressed his contempt for the entire Dutch School of Landscape, dismissing it as no more than a “transcript of the spot”, a mere “enumeration of hill and dale, clumps of trees”.
I like both versions of the Windmills with a slight preference for Ruisdael’s version as he was two centuries earlier and his white clouds form an almost surreal background.

Landscape with Windmills near Haarlem, after Jacob van Ruisdael by John Constable (1830)