Ferries like this one, laden with people, livestock and even a small cart, were an essential feature of the watery Dutch countryside, and a popular subject with artists such as Ruysdael. This work is typical of much 17th-century Dutch landscape painting: naturalistic in its clear light and cloudy, rain-washed sky, but at the same time carefully organised to achieve a balanced composition.


  • Title: River scene with ferry boat
  • Creator: Salomon van Ruysdael
  • Date Created: 1650
  • tag / style: River; ferry; Salomon van Ruysdael; people; cattle; buildings; hens; chickens; ducks; atmospheric; Haarlem
  • Where painted: Haarlem
  • Physical Dimensions: w1520 x h1060 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Salomon van Ruysdael (c1600-1670), one of a family of Dutch landscape painters, was best known for his atmospheric river scenes based upon the countryside around the city of Haarlem where he lived. Like many of his contemporary artists he did not earn his living exclusively from painting but was also a merchant who dealt in the blue dye that was used in Haarlem’s famous cloth bleaching factories. He died, insane, in the Haarlem workhouse.
  • Additional artwork information: This painting represents a shift in the market for art during the 16th and 17th centuries, and the subsequent change in subject matter. Owing to the Reformation of the Church in the 16th century, the Church was no longer the main patron of artists. As a result, artists who had relied heavily on religious commissions had to find new subjects and new patrons. In northern Europe a new class of art collectors emerged – wealthy merchants, business people, politicians – who wanted to buy art for display in their homes. Artists produced pictures of secular subjects for a domestic setting, including landscapes and genre scenes of everyday life like the ones in this gallery. At the time this picture was painted, Haarlem was a thriving centre of landscape painting. The painters' guild included several members who were among the greatest of all Dutch landscape artists, such as Cornelis Vroom, Pieter Molijn and Salomon van Ruysdael’s nephew, Jacob van Ruisdael. This painting was the subject of an ‘Artwork Highlight’ talk at the Walker Art Gallery in 2005. To read the notes from this talk please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=255
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Bequeathed by E E Cook of Bath through the Art Fund in 1955

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