Offered by Galerie Thierry Matranga
Old paintings, religious artifacts, archeology
From the cold waters of the Baltic to Hudson Bay and the East Indies, Dutch ships were everywhere. Transporting everything the West could not produce, the sailors of the United Provinces contributed to modernity by allowing world trade to flourish. Proud of their navigational talents, the Dutch were keen to celebrate this primacy in the arts, which is what our artist does here.
Under a twilight sky that appears to be ablaze, four ships struggle against the elements, the one in the center immediately catching our eye with the beam of light that illuminates it. The crews are struggling to keep their boats afloat by lowering their sails. The swell has caused the waves to rise, their white crests crashing against the hulls. In the background is the village of Hoorn, neighboring the port of Enkhuizen, where we can see the spire of its Gothic cathedral, Sint-Pancraskerk.
Today little known, the port of Enkhuizen was very active during the Golden Age, it was the favorite trading port of the East India Company. The gradual silting up of its bottom and the war against England made it lose its pre-eminence to Amsterdam. In this respect, Hosftede de Groot lists six original compositions by Ludolf Backhuysen set in the surroundings of Enkhuizen, a sign of the artist's interest in this particular environment. Of these, an original composition dated 1680, now in the Schwerin Museum, served as a model for this painting. Apart from minor variations in detail, the two compositions are very similar in execution, probably indicating a studio replica. Stylistically, this work demonstrates Backhuysen's ability to capture the momentum of a scene. The dramatic tension is formalized by strong contrasts of light and bold color. His touch, more vigorous than that of his contemporary Willem van de Velde the Younger, allows him to materialize the agitation of the sea. These qualities earned him the reputation of being one of the greatest marine painters, as Houbraken recounts that when storms threatened, Backhuysen regularly decided to sail "to the heart of the sea, so as to observe the crash of the waters on the coast and the changes in the weather.
Our composition is highlighted by a powerful 17th century blackened wood casseta frame.
Dimensions: 79 x 116 cm the view - 108 x 143 cm with the frame
Sold with invoice and certificate of expertise.
- J. Vay-Dias Collection; Christie's London, 22 April 1932, lot 113, as 'Bakhuysen'.
- Dutch private collection
Ludolf Backhuysen (Emden 1631 - Amsterdam 1708) was one of the most important marine painters of the Golden Age. However, nothing destined him for such a career. As a boy, he worked with his father as a clerk in the Emden town council and as an accountant for the merchants' guild. He emigrated to Amsterdam in 1649 where he became a calligrapher. The young Backhuysen then began to draw and paint grisaille of ships, inspired by the ink drawings of Willem van de Velde the Elder. Registered with the Amsterdam guilds as a calligrapher and draughtsman, he did not begin painting in oils until 1658, learning this medium from Allaert van Everdingen (1621 - 1675) and Hendrik Dubbels (1620 - 1676). He finally registered with the Amsterdam painters' guild in 1664, a date from which his success will grow. As a sign of the interest he aroused, the burgomaster of Amsterdam commissioned him in 1665 to paint a View of Amsterdam and the Ij (Paris, Louvre) to serve as a diplomatic gift to the minister of Louis XIV, Hugues de Lionne. The departure of the van de Velde family for England in 1672 left him as the main master of marine painting in Holland. Houbraken even tells that the Tsar of all the Russias, Peter the Great, visited him in his studio.
- DE BEER, Gerlinde, Sein Leben und Werk: Ludolf Nackuysen (1630 - 1708), Zvolle, Waanders Uitgevers, 2002.
- GOEDDE, Lawrence Otto, Tempest and Shipwreck in Dutch and Flemish Art: Convention, Rhetoric, and Interpretation, Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989.
- Ludolf Bakhuizen: 1631-1708, Schryfmeester, Teyckenaer, Schilder?(cat. exp. Nederlands Scheep vaart Museum, 1985), Amsterdam, Emden, 1985.
- SCHEELE, Friedrich and Kanzenbach Annette, Ludolf Backhuysen: Emdem 1630 - Amsterdam 1708. Deutscher Kunstverlag 2008.
- RUPERT, Preston, The Seventeenth Century Marine Painters of the Netherlands, F. Lewis Publishers, Leigh-on-Sea, 1974.
- SLIVE, Seymmour, Dutch painting 1600-1800, Yale University Press, 1998.