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The Haarlem-born painter Jacob van Ruisdael (c.1628-1682) began to paint at an early age. His first work dates from 1646. Ruisdael probably had lessons from his father, but his uncle, the artist Salomon van Ruysdael, must also have been a great influence on the young painter. As well as being a painter, Ruisdael was also a doctor. He painted not only woodland landscapes with strong, central motifs such as ruins, watermills and oaks, but also cityscapes and seascapes. Ruisdael's compositions are often more imposing than reality. His 'Bentheim Castle' and 'Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede' are good examples of this.
Ruisdael travelled in order to get inspiration for his paintings. On these trips he made many drawings. There are also some etchings which he is known to have made. In the 1650s, probably around 1656, Jacob van Ruisdael moved to Amsterdam, where he lived and worked until his death in 1682.