The Kimbell Art Museum has bought a great Dutch landscape to go with its great Dutch seascape. The seascape just looked so lonely, you know? Now it’s part of a surf ‘n turf pair.
The Fort Worth museum announced that it has acquired Edge of a Forest with a Grainfield, painted around 1656 by the leading master of Dutch landscapes, Jacob van Ruisdael (he always signed, never dated, his paintings, which is why their dates of origin are usually vague).
In 1811, the oil painting was donated by an alumnus to Oxford University’s Worchester College, where it remained for 203 years. It was purchased privately by the Kimbell through Christie’s in London. Experts have valued the painting at $8.5 million, but the Kimbell would not release a purchase price.
Ruisdael worked in Amsterdam during the golden age of Dutch painting — his contemporaries included Vermeer and Franz Hals — and he had a “circle” of fellow painters he influenced. But he conveyed his love of the drama and transience of nature in a way that, at times, anticipates Romanticism.
In his massive survey, The Golden Age, Robert Haak cites Ruisdael’s “romantic monumentality,” referring to the size of his paintings and the often-towering cloudscapes they featured.
At the Kimbell, Edge of a Forest will join Rough Sea at Jetty, one of Ruisdael’s rare seascapes, in this case a storm scene painted by him in the 1650s, acquired by the Kimbell in 1989. Both paintings are roughly the same size, around 40 inches tall by 58 inches wide, so they are nearly a matched pair.
Edge of a Forest will go on display in April, following some small, delicate restoration by the Kimbell’s director of conservation Claire Barry and the mounting of the painting in an antique Dutch frame from 1730.