Wheat Fields (1670) by Jacob van Ruisdael

Wheat Fields - Jacob van Ruisdael - 1670

Artwork Information

TitleWheat Fields
ArtistJacob van Ruisdael
Dimensions100 x 130.2 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art (Met), New York City, NY, US
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About Wheat Fields

Jacob van Ruisdael’s “Wheat Fields,” painted around 1670, is a testament to the artist’s versatility and mastery in landscape painting. This oil on canvas masterpiece measures approximately 100 × 130.2 cm. The painting is currently on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“Wheat Fields” presents a quintessentially Dutch landscape, where Ruisdael skillfully employs the elements of land, sky, and sea to create a dramatic and imposing vision of nature cultivated by human hands. The scene features a road that meanders between two expansive fields of wheat, leading the viewer’s eye towards a small woods and a house in the distance. The dynamic sky, dominated by cumulus clouds, adds a sense of drama to the composition, while a man with a traveler’s pack approaching a woman and child on the road introduces a narrative element to the serene setting. In the far left of the painting, a glimpse of boats at sea connects this rural scene to the wider world, emphasizing the interconnectedness of land and maritime life in the Netherlands.

The work is celebrated for its grand treatment of the subject matter and is considered by Rosenberg and Slive, two leading authorities on Ruisdael’s work, to be the most imposing among his depictions of grainfields. The painting’s historical and cultural significance is further underscored by its inclusion in various publications and exhibitions, reflecting its enduring appeal and importance in the canon of Dutch Golden Age art.

Ruisdael’s “Wheat Fields” not only captures the natural beauty of the Dutch countryside but also symbolizes themes of abundance, fertility, and prosperity, as wheat has been a staple food crop sustaining human societies for millennia. The painting’s depiction of the harvest can also evoke feelings of celebration and thanksgiving for the earth’s bounty, resonating with viewers across time.

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