Emden, Germany, 1630 – Amsterdam 1708
A Dutch Man-of-War and Smaller Vessels at Anchor at the Blauwe Hoofd on the River lJ in Amsterdam
Oil on canvas
50.1 x 67.4 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 2014.72
Backhuysen ranks amongst greatest Dutch marine painters in the second half of the seventeenth century. He moved to Amsterdam, where he was based for the rest of his career. While Backhuysen studied the works of many contemporary Dutch marine painters, he was an extraordinarily gifted autodidact. By the 1660s he had acquired a clientele of leading international collectors. Many of Backhuysen’s subjects are highly dramatic images of vessels in storms or rough seas under stormy skies, often in battle, conforming to contemporary taste and the political realities of the period, but he also could paint marvellously lyrical and calm seascapes with ships, like here. The work features an unidentifiable man-of-war sporting the flag of the Dutch Republic, with the lion emblem of the United Provinces on her stern. At the far left, a state barge, flying what appears to be an officer’s pennant on her prow and bearing a company of officers and officials, seems to have departed from the larger vessel. A mill is visible at the far right. The site can be identified as the Blauwe Hoofd, at the IJ River entrance to the Amsterdam harbour (the Ijmeer). The painting is signed at lower left with the monogram “LB” appearing on the cask floating on the water; the date of its creation is inscribed on the pile sticking out at the lower right foreground.