The Great Beech Tree, with Two Men and a Dog, c. 1650-1655

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Realizing the growing appeal foreign landscapes had for collectors, the famous landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael set out for the rugged German border country around 1650 in search of inspiration. This etching, one of only thirteen he completed, grew out of that trip. Full of personality, the exaggerated tree clinging tenaciously to the bank shows itself to be a survivor, as well as a symbol of transience amid the relentless cycle of growth and decay. Like the pair of dwarfed travelers, we are meant to contemplate life's impermanence and the heroic power of untamed nature.

The Great Beech Tree, with Two Men and a Dog
Artist Life
1628 or 1629–1682
Accession Number
(Frederick Keppel, New York, sold to Ladd); William M. Ladd, Portland, Ore., sold to Jones; Herschel V. Jones, Minneapolis, until 1916; given to MIA.
Catalogue Raisonne
Dutuit IV. 2 state II; B.I.312; Slive E11 ii/ii
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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