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.


  • Title: A Waterfall
  • Creator Lifespan: 1682
  • Date: Late 1660s
  • Physical Dimensions: w834 x h985 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Nationality: Dutch
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: London, Noel Desenfans, by 1807 (Perhaps the 'upright landscape' in an undated Desenfans list of 'Pictures to be sold'); London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: Signed, lower centre right:JvRuisdael[JvR in monogram]
  • Further Information: Waterfalls – an unfamiliar feature in the landscape of the Netherlands – were an important theme in Ruisdael’s œuvre. He began to paint them in the second half of the 1650s, at first in vertical format, before developing a more expansive horizontal format in the 1660s and early 1670s. A Waterfalldates from the 1670s. It is important to remember that Ruisdael’s scenes are imaginary, made up of Scandinavian elements he had never seen. Only one drawing by him of a Northern landscape has survived, and even this is likely to be imaginary (The Morgan Library, New York, III, 218).
  • Artist: van Ruisdael, Jacob
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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