Landscape painter, painter, etcher, commercial artist (male) and draughtsman
Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael was born in Haarlem in 1628 or 1629, presumably to Isaack Jacobsz. van Ruisdael (1599-1677) and his second wife, the Haarlem native Maycken Cornelisdr. Isaack van Ruisdael was active in Haarlem as a frame maker, picture dealer, 'patroonmaker' (creator of cartoon designs for tapestries) and landscape painter. His brother Salomon van Ruisdael (ca. 1600-1670) and nephew Jacob Salomonsz. van Ruysdael (ca. 1630-1681) were also landscape painters. Jacob van Ruisdael was probably taught by his father and his uncle. Houbraken's report that in his youth he studied Latin and medicine and later successfully performed several operations in Amsterdam is as yet unconfirmed, as is the identification of the painter with a 'Jacobus Ruijsdael' whose erased name appears on a list of physicians in Amsterdam and who completed his studies in Caen in 1676. Dated works by the artist appear from 1646 on; these become rarer beginning in 1650 and cease altogether in 1670. In 1648 Ruisdael became a member of the Guild of St Luke in Haarlem. Around 1650 he sojourned with his friend Nicolaes Berchem in the German border region near Bentheim. From 1657 on he is documented in Amsterdam, and in 1659 he became a citizen of that city. In June of that year he left the Mennonite church of his family and joined the Reformed Church. In 1661, with Allaert van Everdingen and Willem Kalf, he appraised a painting by Jan Porcellis. At an auction in Amsterdam in 1664 a large landscape by Ruisdael was sold for sixty gulden, the highest price that had ever been paid for a Dutch painting at auction. He remained unmarried; in 1667, physically ill, he wrote two wills benefiting a half-sister and his needy father. In 1674 his taxable estate was valued at 2,000 gulden. He probably died in Amsterdam and was buried in Haarlem on 14 March 1682. One of the most creative, productive and influential Dutch landscape painters of the seventeenth century, Jacob van Ruisdael was also extraordinarily versatile within his speciality. From the most varied views of the Dutch cultivated landscape, to beach, dune and sea pictures, to Scandinavian waterfalls and imaginary mountain and forest landscapes, he devoted himself to nearly all the popular landscape subjects of his time, with the important exception of the Italian landscape and nocturnal landscape. Of the views that can be topographically identified, his pictures of Haarlem ('Haarlempjes') and Benrath Palace occupy a special place. His oeuvre is comprised of roughly 700 paintings. In addition, there are more than a hundred drawings and thirteen etchings that were made at the beginning of his career. In his early work the influence of his father, Isaack van Ruisdael, and his uncle Salomon van Ruysdael has been seen to be less obvious than that of Cornelis Vroom (1591/92-1661). He sometimes had his staffage figures added by other painters, among them Nicolaes Berchem, Johannes Lingelbach, Gerrit Lundens, Adriaen van de Velde and Philips Wouwerman. His only documented pupil is Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709). Jacob Salomonsz. van Ruysdael, Cornelis Decker, Claes Molenaer, Jan van Kessel, Adriaen Verboom, Jan Vermeer van Haarlem II and Roelof van Vries have also been named as pupils or followers.