The drawing in black chalk with grey wash shows the street behind the church of St Lawrence (the Grote Kerk or Great Church) at Alkmaar in north-west Holland. It is a local, everyday scene without any particular historical, narrative or dramatic purpose. Van Ruisdael's interest lies in recording the effects of light and shade on trees, houses and, in the background, the church. The wash is handled delicately with varied tone for depths of shadow. The drawing is not related to any known painting or etching.Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/9-1682) was born and at first worked in Haarlem. He probably studied under his father Isaack (1599-1677) and his uncle Salomon (around 1600-1670). From 1657 he lived in Amsterdam, though he also travelled extensively in Holland and Germany. Not only was he a fine landscape painter but he apparently also used to perform surgical operations in Amsterdam and he may have practised this second profession.