The son of a frame-maker and dealer, Ruisdael specialised in landscape painting. He depicted waterfalls from the 1650s onwards, shortly before moving to Amsterdam. The painter and writer, Arnold Houbraken wrote that Ruisdael 'could depict water splashing and foaming as it dashed upon the rocks, so naturally, delicately and transparently that it appears to be real.'
While Ruisdael did travel to western Germany, he did not visit the mountainous region of Scandinavia that is evoked in this painting. He was likely to have been inspired by the popular landscapes of Allart van Everdingen, who had visited Norway in 1644.