The large size, majestic composition, and mysterious atmosphere of this haunting landscape rank this painting among the most famous compositions of the great Dutch artist Jacob van Ruisdael. Using the cemetery of the Jewish Portuguese community at Oudekerk near Amsterdam as a point of departure, Ruisdael's painting goes beyond mere description. The artist has created an allegorical landscape in which the abandoned tombs, ruined church, storm clouds, and rainbow allude to the transience of all earthly things. This type of subject matter is often seen in still-life paintings, where the “vanitas” theme is represented by a skull, book, flower, or candle. It is unusual to find such symbolic meaning in landscape painting.
Artist Jacob Isaaksz van Ruisdael, Dutch, 1628 or 1629-1682
  • The Jewish Cemetery
Date 1654 or 1655
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 56 × 74 1/2 inches (142.2 × 189.2 cm)
Framed: 67 3/4 × 85 1/8 × 5 1/2 inches (172.1 × 216.2 × 14 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Julius H. Haass in memory of his brother Dr. Ernest W. Haass
Accession Number 26.3
Department European Painting
On View Dutch Golden Age S380, Level 3 (see map)
Signed Signed, lower left, on tomb: JvRuisdael (The JvR form a monogram)
September 16, 1739, auction, lot 88, Beukelaar (possibly Amsterdam, Netherlands);
May 9, 1770, auction, Posthumous, lot 2 (probably Amsterdam, Netherlands);
September 22, 1783, auction, Pieter Locquet (van der Schley. . . Yver), lot 315, (Amsterdam, Netherlands);
March 22, 1790, auction, M. Marin (Lebrun, lot 124, Paris, France);
January 15, 1794, auction Lebrun (G. J. Constantin, lot 14, Paris, France).
sometime after 1796, Collection (Féréol) Bonnemaison (possibly Paris, France).
1802, auction (Paris, France).
ca. 1815, Collection Christian William Huygens (London, England);
Collection George Gillow (also cited as Gillows) (London, England);
Collection Michael Zachary (London, England);
May 31, 1828, auction M. M. Zachary (Phillips), lot 51 (London, England).
1835, Collection Davis Mackintosh (London, England).
ca. 1920, dealer, Anthony Reyre (London, England);
April 30, 1924, auction, Romford, lot 353, Christie's (London, England);
1925, dealers, Leo Blumenreich & Frantz M. Zatzenstein (Berlin, Germany).
Dealer, Galerie Matthiesen (Berlin, Germany).
Collection Julius H. Haass (Detroit, Michigan, USA);
1926-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Taillasson, J. J. Observations sur quelques grand peintres. Paris, 1807, p. 49.

Deperthes, J. B. Histoire de l'art du paysage, depuis la renaissance des beaux arts jusqu'au dix-huitième siècle. Paris, 1822, p. 445 (note 1).

Smith, J. Catalogue Raisonné of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, Vol. 6. London, 1829 (no. 60).

Hofstede de Groot, D. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, Vol. 4. 1912, p. 74 (no. 219).

Gemälde alter Meister aus Berliner Besitz. Exh. cat. 339. Akademie der Künste (Kaiser-
Friedrich-Museums-Verein). Berlin, July-August 1925, p. 53. [Collection Leo Blumenreich & Franz M. Zatzenstein]

Valentiner, W.R. "The Cemetery by Jacob van Ruysdael." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 7, 5 (1926): pp. 55-58 (ill.). [dates 1660s]

Rosenberg, J. "The Jewish Cemetery by Jacob van Ruisdael." Art in America 14, 2 (1926): pp. 37-44.

Bode, W. "Museum Notes." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 7, no. 7 (April 1926): p. 83.

Rosenberg, J. Jacob van Ruisdael. Berlin, 1928, pp. 30-32. [(primarily discussing Dresden version; p. 81, no. 153, pl. XL, fig. 61 early 1650s]

Zwarts, J. "Het motief van Jacob van Ruisdael's Jodenkerkhof." Oudheidkundige Jaarboek 8 (1928): pp. 232-249 (repro.). [as datable to 1678]

Ninth Loan Exhibition of Dutch Genre and Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat. 59, Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Oct. 16-Nov. 10, 1929, p. xvi. [intro. by W. R. Valentiner]

Heil. W. "Holländische Ausstellung im Detroiter Museum." Pantheon 5 (1930): pp. 32-36.

Heil, W. Catalogue of Paintings in the Permanent Collection of The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1930 (cat. 196, repro.).

Simon, K. E. Jacob van Ruisdael: Eine Darstellung seiner Entwicklung. Berlin, 1930, p. 31 [dating Detroit & Dresden versions to 1653-55; reprint of diss. Berlin, 1927]

Wijnman, H. F. "Het Leven der Ruysdaels, II." Oud Holland 49 (1932): pp. 173-181.

Rosenberg, J. "Notizen und Nachrichten: ‘Jacob van Ruisdael’." Zeitschrift für Kunstwissenschaft 2 (1933): pp. 237-238.

Gerson, H. "The Development of Ruisdael." Burlington Magazine 65, 367 (1934): pp. 76-79. [1660s]

Simon, K.E. "Wann hat Ruisdael den Judenfriedhof Gemalt?" Festschrift für Adolph

Goldschmidt zu seinem Siebenzigsten Geburtstag am 15 Januar 1933. Berlin, 1935, pp. 158-163.

Martin, W. De Hollandsche Schilderkunst in de zeventiende eeuw, Vol. 2 (Rembrandt in zijn tijd). Amsterdam, 1936, pp. 300, 302, 304, 515 (note 412; primarily discussing version in Dresden but citing that in DIA).

Masterpieces of Dutch Painting. Exh. cat. 42, Rhode Island School of Design. Providence, 1938-1939 (repro.) [exh. organized by W. Stechow]

WPA Michigan. Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State. New York, 1941, p. 256.

Shoolman, R. & C. E. Slatkin. Enjoyment of Art in America. Philadelphia, 1942, p. 439 (pl. 392).

Souvenir of a Small Exhibition of European Paintings. Albright Art Gallery. Buffalo, 1942 ( repro.). [unpaginated brochure prepared by G. Washburn]

Paintings by the Great Dutch Masters of the Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat. 35. Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1942.

Paintings by the Great Dutch Masters. Exh. cat. 55. Duveen Galleries. New York, 1942.

Richardson, E. P, ed. Catalogue of Paintings. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1944, p. 115 (no. 196).

Landscape: An Exhibition of Paintings. Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1945-46 (cat. 26).

Landsberger, F. Rembrandt, the Jews and The Bible. Philadelphia, 1946, p. 180 (no. 36).

Gnau, Joyce Black. "Ruisdael, The Cemetary." In Favorite Paintings from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1948, pp. 31, 38–40, no. VI, pl. VI (ill.).

Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of Painting. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, Nov. 4, 1950 - Feb. 11, 1951, cat. 41 (ill.)

Gerson, H. De Nederlandse Schilderkunst Part 2 Het Tijdperk van Rembrandt en Vermeer. (Schoonheid van het Land). Amsterdam, 1952, p. 45 (pl. 126).

Rousseau, T., Jr Dutch Painting: The Golden Age. Exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York City, 1954, cat. 71.

Huyghe, René. Dialogue avec le Visible. Paris, 1955, p. 259.

Fleming, W. Arts and Ideas. New York, 1955, pp. 534-535 (fig. 14:8).

Rosenau, H. "The Dates of Jacob van Ruisdael's ‘Jewish Cemeteries’.” Oud Holland 73 (1958): pp. 241-242.

Canady, J. Mainstreams of Modern Art. New York, 1959, p. 117 (fig. 129).

Brion, M. Romantic Art. New York, 1960, p. 295 (pl. 24, fig. 5).

Slive, S. "Realism and Symbolism in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting." Daedalus (1962): pp. 469-500 (fig. 17).

W. M. Milliken. "Masterpieces of Art." Exh. cat., Seattle World's Fair. Seattle, 1962, p. 72 cat. 29 (repro.).

Langsner, J. "Clues to the Art of Our Time: The Exhibitions at the Seattle World's Fair." Art International 6, 4 (May, 1962): pp. 44, 72 (fig. 5, 21, no. 29).

British Broadcasting Corporation. Dutch Painting. London, 1965, p. 57.

Stechow, W. Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century. London, 1966, pp. 74, 139-140 (pl. 280).

Rosenberg, J., S. Slive, and E.H. ter Kuile. Dutch Art and Architecture1600 to1800. Harmondsworth, 1966, p. 156. [discussing Dresden version but citing that in DIA]

Dubiez, F. J. "Beth Haim, Huis des Levens: de Portugees Israëlietische begraafplaats te Ouderkerk aan de Amstel." Ons Amsterdam 19, 7 (July 1967): pp. 205-213. [neither Detroit nor Dresden painting is illustrated]

Zucker, P. Fascination of Decay. Ridgewood, N. J., 1968, pp. 68-69 (repro.).

Canaday, J.E. The Lives of the Painters, Vol. 4. London, 1969, p. 447 (pl. 157).

Myers, B. S., ed. Encyclopedia of Painting. New York, 1970, p. 431 (pl. 181).

Art, Music and Ideas. New York, 1970, pp. 251-252 (fig. 232).

Wiegand, Wilfried. “Ruisdael-Studien Ein Versuch zur Ikonologie der Landschaftsmalerei.” diss., Universität Hamburg, 1971, pp. 57-85.

Cummings, Frederick J. and Charles H. Elam, eds. The Detroit Institute of Arts Illustrated Handbook. Detroit, 1971, p. 111 (ill.).

Nash, J. Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. London, 1972 (pl. 144).

Kuznetsov, Y. "Sur le symbolisme dans les paysages de Jacob de Ruisdael." Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 14 (1973): pp. 31-41.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Bulletin 5, 1 (Fall 1974): p. 4 (fig. 3).

Alvares Vega, L. Het Beth Haim van Ouderkerk Beelden van een Portugees-Joodse begraafplaats. Assen, 1975, p. 14 (ill.).

Chefs-d'Oeuvre des Musées des Etats-Unis: de Giorgione à Picasso. Exh. cat., Musée Marmottan. Paris, 1976, cat. 15 (ill.).

Exhibition of Pictures from Museums from the United States of America. Exh. cat., Hermitage Museum. Leningrad, 1976, p. 31, cat. 10 (ill.). [in Russian]

Martin, J. R. Baroque. London, 1977, p. 140 (repro.).

Scheyer, E. "The Iconography of Jacob van Ruisdael's Cemetery." Bulletin of the DIA 55 (1977): pp. 133-146.

Russell, J. "Spotlight on 17th Century Dutch Painters." pp. 67-75 (no. 20, col. repro. and cover ill.).

Cummings, Frederick, ed. Selected Works from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1979, pp. 70, 76, no. 46 (ill.).

Honour, Hugh. Romanticism. New York, 1979, p. 28.

Flemming, D. von. "Jacob van Ruisdael." Weltkunst 23 (1981): p. 3666 (ill.).

Jamaica Journal. Institute of Jamaica. May 1981, p. 62 (ill.).

Bazarov, K. Landscape Painting. (ill.).

McCorquodale, C., & Llewellyn. Great Masters. 1981

Slive, S. "Jacob van Ruisdael." Exh. cat., Mauritshuis. The Hague, 1981-82, pp. 67-75, cat. 20 (repro.).

Brown, C. "Boston Jacob van Ruisdael at the Fogg." Burlington Magazine 124 (1982): pp. 190-194.

Russell, J. "Spotlight on 17th-Century Dutch Painters." New York Times. Feb 7, 1982, p. 29 (repro.).

Duparc, F. "Het ‘Joodse Kerkhof’ van Jacob van Ruisdael." Antiek 16 (Nov. 1981): pp. 225-230 (pl. 2).

Ashton, P. S., S. Slive, & A. Davies. "Jacob van Ruisdael's Trees." Arnoldia 42, 1 (1982): p. 15 (repro.). [detail in reverse]

Ratcliff, C. "Ruisdael's Northern Prospects." Art in America 70, 4 (1982): pp. 92-101 (repro.).

Rosenthal, M. Constable, The Painter and his Landscape. New Haven, 1983, pp. 234-235 (fig. 260).

"Paysage." Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopedique Larousse, Vol. 8. Paris, 1984, p. 7906 (repro.).

100 Masterworks from The Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 110-111 (repro.).

Horowitz, Frederick A. More Than You See: A Guide to Art. San Diego, 1985, pp. 59 (ill.).

Sutton, P. C. Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, 1986, p. 85 (fig. 121).

Sutton, Peter. "Masters of 17th-Century Dutch Landscape Painting." Exh. cat.,

Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam, 1987-1988, pp. 452-456, cat. 86 (pl. 104). [dated 1668/72]

Walford, E. John. Jacob van Ruisdael and the Perception of Landscape. New Haven, 1991. pp. 95-102 (pl. 89, 90 and 93).

Between Fantasy and Reality. Baarn, De Prom, 1993, pp. 59-60 (fig.25). [publication accompanying an exhibition touring Japan and also shown at the Lakenhal in Leiden in 1992-1993; exh. organized by E. Buijsen]

Henshaw, Julia, ed. A Visitor's Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 201 (ill.).

Rings: Five Passions in World Art. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 1996, p. 144 (repro.). [entry by R. Baer]

Gibson, W.S. Pleasant Places: The Rustic Landscape from Bruegel to Ruisdael. Berkeley, 2000, pp. 56, 57, 84, 197 (note 36, fig. 55).

The Glory of the Golden Age. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam, 2000, pp. 226-227, 326, cat. 155 (repro.).

Wissman, F. W. European Vistas: Cultural Landscapes. Detroit, 2000, pp. 76-77 (ill.).

Slive, S. Jacob van Ruisdael A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings and Etchings. New Haven, 2001, pp. 179-184, cat. 178 (repro.).

Zell, M. “Reframing Rembrandt.” Jews and the Christian Image in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam. Berkeley, 2002, pp. 34-37 (fig. 18).

Kloek, W. T. "Review Seymour Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael. A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings and Etchings." Oud Holland 116, 2 (2003): pp. 114-119
Nadler, S. Rembrandt's Jews. Chicago, 2003, pp. 71, 211-221 (pl. 8).

Masters of Dutch Painting: The Detroit Institute of Arts. London, 2004, pp. 198-203. [entry by G. S. Keyes]

Wege der Birke. Exh. cat., Berne, Kornhaus, and Langenthal, Design Center. Bern, 1996, pp. 94-95 (repro.). [not in exhibition; illustrates "Jacob van Ruisdael -- Vanitus und Erlösung," probably by Oliver Wick]

Keyes, G. S. "A Brief History of the European Paintings Collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts with a Focus on the Dutch School." Exh. cat., TEFAF. Maastricht, 2005, pp. 10-15 (fig. 4).

Time and Transformation in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art. Exh. cat., Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College. Poughkeepsie, 2005-2006, pp. 24–25, 27, fig. 11 (ill.). [exh. organized by S. Donahue Kuretsky]

Watson, R. N. Back to Nature: The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance. Philadelphia, 2006, pp. 172-173, fig. 3 (ill.).