Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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A Coastal Scene Near Zandvoort

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A Coastal Scene Near Zandvoort
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Simon de Vlieger


A Coastal Scene Near Zandvoort

Creation Date

c. 1640

Medium & Support

oil on panel


22 1/4  x 34 7/8 in. (56.52  x 88.58 cm)

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund

Accession Number



Public Domain

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A gathering of fisherfolk peddling their catch dominates the foreground. The artist’s mastery of perspective is employed here by contrasting the foreground fisherfolk with diminutive figures near the distant water’s edge. All of this human activity occurs under a superbly rendered cloudy sky in which the light playing across the scene seems to be constantly shifting, energizing the painting to brilliant pictorial effect. Simon de Vlieger was responsible for the transition from the spirited beginnings of Dutch marine art to its most august and refined stage in the years around 1650. His great predecessor, Jan Porcellis, shifted Dutch marine art away from large-scale history subjects to focus instead on the unique atmospheric effects of the sea. De Vlieger brought these innovations to new levels of refinement by envisaging the constant yet ever-changing rhythm of the sea under vaulting clouds that filter the sunlight playing across land and sea.

De Vlieger’s Followers

Simon de Vlieger was one of the pivotal marine painters of the Dutch “Golden Age,” and his achievement assured him a unique place in the evolution of Dutch marine art. Willem van de Velde the Younger putatively studied with de Vlieger in Weesp. In particular, his early seascapes bespeak his close study of de Vlieger’s art. Likewise, Jan van de Cappelle was an ardent admirer, and the inventory of his estate included more than 1,300 drawings by de Vlieger. During the 1650s and 1660s, these two younger artists brought Dutch marine art to its apogee, but it was de Vlieger who created the groundwork for this development. He was the fulcrum who shifted the direction of Dutch marine art to its moment of perfection.

George S. Keyes
Former Chief Curator and Curator of European Paintings, Detroit Institute of Arts

Portfolios: FEAT|Highlights on View   FEAT|European Art   FEAT|Public Domain