Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund
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
Help us make our collections more accessible by providing keywords to describe this artwork. The BCMA uses the
Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus to
provide consistent keywords. Enter a keyword in the field below and you will be prompted with a list of possible matching AAT preferred terms.