The Rustic Cottage

Dublin Core


The Rustic Cottage


Ruisdael's "The Rustic Cottage" is not merely an empirical landscape scene, as there is a complex allegorical meaning to the etching. On one signifying level, Ruisdael has created the symbolic theme of vanitas within this etching, which serves as a moralizing reminder to the viewer of the fleeting nature of earthly life. The dead tree juxtaposed with the rushing stream symbolizes the powerful passage of time, which eventually vanquishes everything. While Ruisdael is emphasizing that even nature is not exempt from the forces of time, the decrepit form of the cottage also stresses the destructive impact of time on human achievements. However, the rushing stream that dominates the left side of the etching
also signifies everlasting life and vitality in Christian emblematic terms. Half submerged in the rushing stream, the dead tree is surrounded by thriving shoots and foliage. The juxtaposition of the dead tree against the lush flora and the flow of the stream symbolizes Christian resurrection.


Ruisdael, Jacob van


Still Image






Ruisdael, Jacob van, “The Rustic Cottage,” Artistic Treasures from the Knox College Special Collections & Archives, accessed September 18, 2018,