Tuesday, August 11, 2009

“The Golden Age of Dutch Seascapes” at Peabody Essex Museum

From my review of “The Golden Age of Dutch Seascapes” at Salem's Peabody Essex Museum:
The Dutch emerged at the dawn of the 17th century as a pre-eminent military and commercial power on the sea. They were in the midst of throwing off Spanish rule and developing a shipping empire that would reach from the Americas to South Africa to Asia. Wealth from fishing and whaling and trade in lumber, sugar, porcelain, silk, spices, and slaves poured into the fledgling republic, financing a "Golden Age" of art, science, and commerce.

It was the era of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Jan Vermeer. The maps of the Netherlands and Europe lurking in the background of several of Vermeer's paintings suggest the political turmoil, the redrawing of boundaries, that was the backdrop for the calm oases of his domestic interiors. In the Peabody Essex Museum's "The Golden Age of Dutch Seascapes" — which was organized by the National Maritime Museum in England and draws almost exclusively from its collection — seaborne warfare and commerce become the foreground.

Some 70 paintings tell a story of fighting for independence, exploring the world, setting up trading settlements, opening up markets, and shipping home natural resources. It is a composite portrait of the birth of a nation and wealth in the making.
Read the rest here.

“The Golden Age of Dutch Seascapes,” Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square, Salem, June 13 to Sept. 7, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: "A Dutch Ferry Boat before a Breeze," Late 1640s, Simon De Vlieger; "Ships at Anchor off a Mediterranean Harbour," c.1680s, Pieter van den Velde; "Seascape with Sailors Sheltering from a Rainstorm," c. 1640, Bonaventura Peeters the Elder; "The Merchant Shipping Anchorage off Texel Island with Oude Schild in the Distance," 1665, Ludolf Backhuysen; "Mediterranean Harbour Scene with the Saint Jean Cathedral at Lyons," 1660, Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraten; "Italianate Harbour View with a Fantasy Building and Man-of-War," 1697, Abraham Storck; "Italianate Harbour Scene with the Monument of Ferdinand I de’ Medici at Leghorn," 1670, Hendrik van Minderhout; "The Port of Genoa," c.1660, Adriaen Van Der Cabel; "Dutch Ships in a Gale," c.1620, Jan Porcellis; "Fishermen on Shore Hauling in their Nets," c.1640, Julius Porcellis; "The Wreck of the Amsterdam," c.1630, Anonymous; "The Darsna delle Galere and Castello Nuovo at Naples," 1703, Caspar van Wittel; and "A Spanish Three-Decker at Anchor off Naples," 1669, Abraham Willaerts. All © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK.


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