Monday, May 01, 2006

Jacob van Ruisdael

Just back from a trip to London, where I managed to see the Ruisdael show at the RA. In moments when I've been seeking inspiration - which is sadly all too frequent! - I've often consulted paintings to get me in the zone. Vermeer is of course the natural choice, and I have a copy of the small Complete Paintings that Taschen do.

Ruisdael is also certainly up there as one of my main inspirations for the 'look' of the novel, and the RA show is awesome. In particular, the painting of Haarlem with the bleaching grounds in the foreground made a huge impact on me. You can almost see the cloud shadows moving across the fields, and it suddenly struck me that perhaps it's a painting about time...

As a result, I'm sure bleaching grounds will be appearing in Elias, alongside other things that I saw in the show: streetlights (Amsterdam was the first European city to have them, in 1669), beacons for ships and something after Heath-Robinson's own heart, a mud-mill (used for draining land).

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