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Western art

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Wooded hillside with a view of Bentheim Castle



Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael


1628 or 1629 - buried 14 March 1682


It is hard to escape the melancholy which imbues this painting. Indeed, a significant part of the appeal of van Ruisdael to his many English and Continental collectors was just this sense of sad foreboding, of abandonment and uneasy calm. Such works were a source of inspiration, and affirmation, to a later generation of romantic painters. Constable was particularly taken with van Ruisdael's work, as were the artists of the Barbizon School. He was not simply the leading Dutch landscapist of the seventeenth century, but the most forward-looking, one might say modern, of all northern artists of his day. Van Ruisdael invested his compositions with something more than a spirit of place: it is possible to read his paintings as equivalents of mental states. 'Wooded hillside with a view of Bentheim Castle', a site he was drawn to paint on twelve occasions, is gloomy in the extreme. Yet through the shadowy foreground and steep, uninviting track, the castle itself, backlit by a burst of splendid clouds, rises like an apparition of hope.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.


Other Title

A castle on a hill



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


60.2 x 73.9 cm stretcher; 78.5 x 91.9 x 5.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.c., oil "JvR" [artist's monogram]. Not dated.


Gift of James Fairfax AC 1991

Accession number


Artist information

Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Joseph, London/England

François Nieuwenhuys, pre 28 Apr 1881, Paris/France, his (anon.) sale, Hotel Drouot, 28 April 1881, lot no. 20, purchased Bourgeois, 11,000 francs

Bourgeois, post 28 Apr 1881, Purchased at Hotel Drouot, 28 April 1881, lot no. 20, 11,000 francs

Hôtel Drouot, 27 Jan 1882, Paris/France

Étienne-Edmond Martin, 2nd Baron de Beurnonville, pre 21 May 1883, France, Beurnonville's sale, Hotel Drouot, 27 January 1882, lot no. 60 (Paysage) said to be bought by Lenoir (6,000 francs) but presumably bought in. Sold Hotel Drouot, 21-22 May 1883, lot no. 88 'Le Chateau sur la colline' (6,100 francs)

Carl von Hollitscher, circa 1912, Berlin/Germany, by 1912, see 'Die Gemalde-sammlung des Herrn Carl von Hollitscher in Berlin' by Wilhelm Bode, Max J. Friedlander, 1912

Camillo Castiglioni, pre 17 Nov 1925, Vienna/Austria, his sale, Amsterdam, 17-20 November 1925. Sold 17 November, lot no. 75 'Coteau boisé avec château fort' purchased Agnew's, 17,500 fl.

Agnew's, London, 17 Nov 1925-05 Mar 1926, London/England, Purchased by C.G. Hoare, 5 March 1926. Agnew's stock no. 6005

C.G. Hoare, 05 Mar 1926-1978, England, Hoare family collection until 1978

Agnew's, London, 1978-1979, London/England, Sold to James Fairfax 1979. Agnew's stock no. 41601

James Oswald Fairfax AC, 1979-28 Oct 1991, Bowral/New South Wales/Australia, Gift of James Fairfax 1991. Purchased by James Fairfax from Agnew's 1979.

Referenced in 20 publications


Agnew's, London, A Dealer's record: Agnew's 1967-81, London, 1981, 89 (illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Sydney, 1992. no catalogue numbers

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Richard Beresford and Peter Raissis, The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Sydney, 2003, 176 (colour illus.), 177-179. 50

W Bode and Max J. Friedlander, Die Gemalde-sammlung des Herrn Carl von Hollitscher in Berlin, Berlin, 1912, 40. no. 61

Nils Büttner and Gerd Unverfehrt, Jacob van Ruisdael in Bentheim: ein niederla¨ndischer Maler und die Burg Bentheim im 17. Jahrhundert, Germany, 24, 26 (illus.), 105. fig. 9 illustration in reverse, no. 22

Edmund Capon, Great philanthropists on trial : the art of the bequest, 'The James Fairfax collection', pg.126-135, Melbourne, 2006, 126, 128 (colour illus.). fig.1

Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke des hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, Netherlands, 1907-1928, vol. 4, 1911: 247. no. 782, 'A castle on a hill'.

Fermoy Art Gallery, King's Lynn, The collection made by C.G. Hoare, M.C. and family, England, 1970, 14. 14

Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 120, 121 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 29 (colour illus.).

Königlichen Akademie der Künste, Ausstellung von Werken alter Kunst aus dem Privatbesitz von Mitgliedern des Kaiser Friedrich-Museums-Verein, 1914, 38. 145

Dietrich Maschmeyer, Jahrbuch des Heimatvereins der Grafschaft Bentheim, 'Jacob Isaackszoon van Ruisdael und Meindert Hobbema malen Motive aus der Grafschaft Bentheim und ihrer Umgebung', pg. 61-71, 1978, 69. R10

Norbert Middlekoop, The golden age of Dutch art: seventeenth century paintings from the Rijksmuseum and Australian collections, Perth, 1997, 38, 39 (colour illus.). 7, as 'Landscape with view of Castle Bentheim' c1660-1665

Norwich Castle Museum, Dutch paintings from East Anglia, England, 1966, 15. 38, pl. V

J. Rosenberg, Jacob van Ruisdael, 1928, 41, 73. no. 10, plate no. 91.

Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, Jacob van Ruisdael paints Bentheim, 2009, 26 (illus.). fig.17

Seymour Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: a complete catalogue of his paintings, drawings, and etchings, New Haven, 2001, 25, 36 (illus.), 37. 22

Editor Unknown (Editor), Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 'Chronique des Arts' suppliment, Unknown, Mar 1993, 30 (illus.). no. 148

Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1992 [for the year ended 30 June 1992], Sydney, 1992, 67.