Rough Sea

about 1670
Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael (Dutch, 1628 or 1629–1682)


107.0 x 125.8 cm (42 1/8 x 49 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Art of the Netherlands in the 17th Century Gallery (Gallery 242)





The sea was an integral part of Dutch life and landscape; a powerful navy and ships that traded as far as Asia and the Americas made this small nation one of the wealthiest in Europe. The exhilarating expanse of space in Ruisdael’s view of the estuary of the river Ij, near Amsterdam, is dominated by a towering sky. Clouds, white-capped waves, and the almost palpable presence of the wind are captured with compelling realism and an eloquent appreciation of the grandeur of nature. This is one of the finest of the rare seascapes by Ruisdael, widely considered the greatest Dutch landscape painter of the seventeenth century.


Lower left: Ruisdael


Acquired in Holstein, Germany by Georg Ernst Harzen (b. 1790 - d. 1863), Hamburg. Richard Foster (d. 1830), Clewer Park, Berkshire, England; by descent to Edmund Foster (d. 1863), Clewer Park; by descent to Edmund Benson Foster (b. about 1850), Clewer Park; July 13, 1895, Richard Foster sale, Christie, Manson, and Woods, London, lot 70, to Colnaghi. Alfred Beit (b. 1853 - d. 1906), London; 1906, by inheritance to his brother, Sir Otto John Beit (b. 1865 - d. 1930), London [see note 1]; 1930, probably by inheritance to his widow or his son, Sir Alfred Lane Beit (b. 1903 - d. 1994), London [see note 2]. 1956, H. J. Spiller, London; July 30, 1956, sold by Spiller to Duits, London (stock no. 604) [see note 3]; 1956, sold by Duits to Rudolf J. Heinemann (dealer, b. 1902 - d. 1975), New York [see note 4]; 1957, sold by Heinemann to the MFA for $39,000. (Accession Date: January 10, 1957)

[1] The painting was in his possession until at least 1929, when he lent it to the Exhibition of Dutch Art, 1450-1900 (London: Royal Academy of Art, 1929), cat. no. 100.

[2] Upon Otto Beit's death in 1930, his collection was divided between his widow and his son. See Adrian Le Harivel et al., "The Beit Collection" (Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1988).

[3] According to information on file at the Getty Research Institute (Duits Records, Accession No. 860290, boxes 16 and 37), Duits acquired a half-share in the painting at this time.

[4] Agnew's, London, purchased a half-share in the painting from Heinemann in October, 1956 and sold it back to him in February, 1957.

Credit Line

William Francis Warden Fund