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A Cornfield with the Zuiderzee in the background

Jacob van Ruisdaelcirca 1660

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

The rolling cornfield is a striking feature of this hilly landscape. It is brightly illuminated by the sun. In the foreground, a path runs through a patch of uncultivated land. On the right is a stand of three intertwined tree; three figures can be seen near the cornfield. A few yachts sail on a stretch of water in the distance. Looming clouds occupy much of the painting. The human figures are reduced to insignificance by the dark trees, the overcast sky, and the large field of corn.

It might appear that Jacob van Ruisdael executed this type of landscape outdoors, but that was not the case. He made drawings outdoors, but worked on his paintings in the studio. The cornfields were probably based on the countryside around the village of Naarden, near the Zuiderzee. This was one of the subjects that Van Ruisdael depicted repeatedly. Twenty-seven paintings in which cornfields feature prominently are known from his hand. The often-luminous yellow of the corn may have inspired him to include the fields in his landscapes.

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