A Landscape by Jacob Ruysdael Sold to the Kimbell by an Oxford College

Jacob van Ruisdael (c. 1628/1629-1682)
Edge of a Forest with a Grainfield, c. 1656
Oil on canvas - 103.8 x 146.2 cm
Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum
Photo : Kimbell Art Museum

9/3/14 - Acquisition - Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum - The Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth which makes few purchases but always masterpieces, recently announced the acquisition of a landscape by Jacob Ruisdael, Edge of a Forest with a Grainfield, to join a large seascape by the same artist already in the collections.
This sale is sure to cause an uproar in the United Kingdom : acquired after negotiations through Christie’s, this canvas was owned by Worcester College at Oxford since 1811, a donation from an alumnus, the Reverend Treadway Russell Nash. We imagine that the Reverend never suspected that his generosity would one day be transformed into a commercial transaction.

We can also wonder about acquisitions policies for British museums which at the moment are facing a veritable exodus of major works : the National Gallery in London did not hesitate recently (see news item of 10/2/14) to purchase a canvas by George Bellows, totally unrelated to its collections for the astronomical figure of 25.5 million dollars, but let go a Ruisdale painting which Seymour Slive, the world’s leading authority on the artist, asserts as being "an unusually large, signed and almost miraculously well-preserved masterwork" for about 16 million dollars (10 million pounds), according to the Sunday Times.
As pointed out by the newspaper, the work did not receive the temporary export ban from British soil. This means no attempt was made to see if it might be acquired by an English museum when in fact the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, to quote just one example, only holds two paintings by Ruisdael, both much smaller.

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Didier Rykner, dimanche 9 mars 2014

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