Hence also, except for Breughel—not Van der Helle, but the landscapist, for there are two Breughels55—and except for Ruysdael, in the whole north where has there been a landscape artist of the first rank? The sky, the sky is necessary.” “Our painter Orlowski,”56 interrupted Telimena, “had a Soplica’s taste.
Pons was of the opinion of Chenavard, the print-collector, who laid it down as an axiom that you only fully enjoy the pleasure of looking at your Ruysdael, Hobbema, Holbein, Raphael, Murillo, Greuze, Sebastian del Piombo, Giorgione, Albrecht Durer, or what not, when you have paid less than sixty francs for your picture. Pons never gave more than a hundred francs for any purchase.
"The Great Cloud" rolls over a strip of lowland, lowering in a vast imperial whiteness, vague and shadowy as sleep or death. Ruysdael would have stopped for a moment to watch it. But its lyrical lilt would trouble a mind that could only think in prose; Shelley would like it better, and most certainly it would not fail to recall to his mind his own immortal verses
The fine organisation and acute intelligence of Sebastian would have made him an effective connoisseur of the arts, as he showed by the justice of his remarks in those assemblies of the artists which his father so much loved. But in truth the arts were a matter he could but just tolerate. Why add, by a forced and artificial production, to the monotonous tide of competing, fleeting existence? Only, finding so much fine art actually about him, he was compelled (so to speak) to adjust himself to it; to ascertain and accept that in it which should least collide with, or might even carry forward a little, his own characteristic tendencies. Obviously somewhat jealous of his intellectual interests, he loved inanimate nature, it might have been thought, better than man. He cared nothing, indeed, for the warm sandbanks of Wynants, nor for those eerie relics of the ancient Dutch woodland which survive in Hobbema and Ruysdael, still less for the highly-coloured sceneries of the academic band at Rome, in spite of the escape they provide one into clear breadth of atmosphere. For though Sebastian van Storck refused to travel, he loved the distant enjoyed the sense of things seen from a distance, carrying us, as on wide wings of space itself, far out of one's actual surrounding. His preference in the matter of art was, therefore, for those prospects
Some of them, not content with their native land, came to Italy in search of hills, bright skies, and great ruins, and became a circle of choice artists, such as Both, Swanevelt, Pijnacker, Breenbergh, Van Laer, and Asselin; but the palm remains with the true Dutch landscape painters with Wynants, the painter of morning; Van der Neer, the painter of night; Ruysdael, the painter of melancholy; Hobbema, the painter of windmills, cottages, and kitchen-gardens; and with others who contented themselves with expressing the charm of the modest scenes of their native land.
It may truly be said that 'the first smile of the young Republic was art, for it was only after the revolt of the Dutch against the Spanish ... that painting reached a high grade of perfection. One is accustomed to take it for granted too readily that the glory of Dutch art lies in the past; that the works and fame of a Van Eyck, a Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and Ruysdael sum up Holland's contribution to the art of the world, and that this chapter of its history, like the chapters which deal with its maritime supremacy, its industrial greatness, and its struggles for liberty, is closed for ever.
He has all the lifelike truthfulness of the Dutch artists. In tone he is as warm and golden as Ruysdael is cool in his greens. In the National Gallery there are excellent specimens of Hobbema, such as 'The Avenue Middelharnis' and 'A Landscape in Showery Weather. Nicolas Berchem, often spelt Berghem, was born at Haarlem in 1620, and died at Amsterdam in 1683.
The rain had quite ceased, and the sun was shining through the green, brown, and yellow leaves, now sparkling and varnished by the raindrops to the bright- ness of similar effects in the landscapes of Ruysdael and Hobbema, and full of all those infinite beauties that arise from the union of water and colour with high lights.
Room XXV. is rich in landscapes by Ruysdael, of which 2557, The Forest, and 2558, Tempest near the Dykes of Holland, are masterpieces: 2588, The Music Lesson, is a fine Terburg. Room XXVI., dedicated to Hobbema, contains his fine landscapes: 2403, A Forest Scene, and 2404, The Mill, and another exquisite Terburg, 2589, The Concert. Some typical Paul Potters also hang here.
Corot was less affected by the Dutchmen, or, to speak more exactly, he assimilated more completely what he had learnt from them than his rival was able to do. Moreover, what he took from Holland came to him through Ruysdael rather than through Hobbema.