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There is not an old or modern master whose work even begins to rival the diversity of landscapes we find in the oeuvre of Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29-1682). He drew and painted identifiable sites and ruins, imag- inary mountain peaks, country lanes and fields of grain, noble woodlands, raging seas and gently lapping waves, rushing torrents and rippling rivers, bridges and sluices, winter scenes, dunes, water mills – and, of course, the windmills that dominated the Dutch scene in his day.
The most famous of these – Ruisdael’s Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede – is the subject of this lavishly illustrated publication. Today it is the artist’s most celebrated work and a perennial favourite of Rijksmuseum visitors. Picture postcards of it have been best-sellers in the museum shop for more than a century and the painting has been copied by aspiring and accomplished artists more often than any other picture in the collection. In this edition of the Rijksmuseum Series Seymour Slive presents his perceptive view of the pictorial qualities and possible meanings of Ruisdael’s masterpiece that help to explain the enormous popularity of Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede.