And you're absolutely enveloped by the wind,
the dark, lead-coloured light.
But this still,
in its scraped-away authenticity, is a kind of home.
As the Dutch Republic became the richest country on Earth,
so the moneyed wanted more sophisticated visions
of their homeland.
Every so often, a genius came along
who could make masterpieces
out of the same, modest subject matter.
Jacob van Ruisdael's great medium
was the dappling Dutch light, so that the skies,
which in the work of Van Goyen had been wet and dim,
now became a grand opera of light and shade
with huge, rolling clouds as its cast of characters.
Ruisdael loved to exaggerate features,
to make them more theatrical.
The romance of ancient ruins,
the sinister darkness of a boggy wood.
And, in this painting,
the great emblem of Holland has become a hero in its own right.
Ruisdael's great gift was to take something homely and familiar -
and it doesn't get more homely, does it, than a windmill,
and big it up to the max until it is something epic, heroic,
almost spiritually meaningful
to everybody who's going to look at it.
Ruisdael was essentially a dramatist of the landscape,
and this is high theatre.
Now, there really is a windmill
at this town called Wijk bij Duurstede,
but he's made it absolutely enormous.
It has a kind of authority to it.
The sky is heavy.
There is dirty weather ahead.
These clouds are boiling up into what might be a storm.
There are deep shadows hanging over the landscape.
These women, with their bonnets covering their faces,
are hurrying home.