One of the most imposing and beautiful of Ruysdael's paintings is certainly a great work, before which one might linger unconscious of all time is the river view at the Ryks Museum, Amsterdam, which will be better remembered as "The Windmill" or "Tower Mill at Wijk bij Duurstede."
It is a singularly impressive piece, representing a dead calm before a storm. The mill, with its dark, wide-spread arms, rises high in the canvas to the right, upon the summit of a terraced ground — a palisade lapped by the dark and quiet river. The white sail of a boat, toward mid-stream, flat, and unruffled by the slightest breeze, and of exquisite value in its relief and in its delicate reflection in the water, rises softly against the far-off horizon.
Above is the wide sky, heavy with clouds, which break as they scale toward the top of the canvas, disclosing the gray blue of the heavens through the watery vapors. It is one harmonious and powerful tone composed of rich neutral browns and dark slate-colors, flowing and melting the one into the other in subtle gradations of shades all shadow, so to speak, everywhere except the pink flush of light crowning the disks of two clouds high up near the middle of the sky, which is the final gleam of the retiring sun.
The mysterious sense of expectancy which is the essence of this work is heightened by the strange light, as of an eclipse, that is diffused over all. I have felt at times that this picture was really the most entrancing thing I had ever beheld.