There purchased ('through Mr Barker') by Sir John Josiah Guest, 1st Bt., (1785–1852), Canford Manor, Dorset (bears the family bookplate on the reverse of the panel);
By descent to Ivor Bertie Guest, 1st Baron Wimborne (1835–1914), Canford Manor, Dorset;
By descent to the Rt Hon. Ivor Guest, 1st Viscount Wimborne (1873–1939);
By whom sold London, Christie's, 9 March 1923, lot 57 (as Van de Velde) for 170 guineas to Asscher;
G. Ribbius Pelletier, Utrecht, from 1941 until after 1952, by whom deposited ('Bewaergeving') at the Centraal Museum, Utrecht (according to a label; on the reverse of the frame);
Anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Mak van Waay, 12 May 1975, lot 284, (as Hendrik Cornelisz. Vroom), where acquired by Baron van Dedem.
M.E. Houtzager (ed.), Centraal Museum, Utrecht. Catalogus der Schilderijen, Utrecht 1952, p. 403, no. 1186 (as Dutch school, mid-17th century);
P.C. Sutton, Dutch & Flemish Paintings, The Collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, London 2002, pp. 96–99, no. 16, reproduced.
The impressive ship depicted here is unusually large, for it has four masts, a rarity in Dutch sea-going vessels of this period.4 This, and the fact that it is well armed, with all its gun-ports opened, suggest that it is a man-of-war. The flag flying from the stern is probably that of the province of Zeeland, whose capital was Middelburg. The warship appears to getting under way or preparing to tack, for there is a freshening breeze and her sailors are busy with the sails on the fore and main masts, while on her port side a gun is firing a salute, as a trumpeter sounds a blast from his position atop the poop deck. Astern of her, another smaller man of war is already underway on a port tack. The details of the rigging and the ship’s decoration are carefully observed, and may well validate de Bie’s assertion that Van Eertvelt was ‘a son of the sea’. Certainly his style is extremely busy and colourful, with the picture composed along his favourite intersecting diagonals, with the main vessel set almost square to the viewer, and the bright colours of the flags and the white foam of the waves standing out against the deep green-blue of the sea itself.
It is not known who, if anyone, taught Van Eertvelt, but the clear similarities between his work and that of Hendrick Vroom, including, for example, a copy of the latter’s Return of the East India Company Fleet to Amsterdam of 1599 (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich),5 has led scholars to speculate that he was the latter’s pupil, or had some professional connection with him. The man-of-war in this picture, for example, may be compared with the flagship in a larger panel by Vroom sold Amsterdam, Sotheby Maak van Way, 2 June 1986, lot 42. Indeed, when the present panel was sold in Amsterdam in 1975 it was then attributed to Vroom himself. The swirling white waves with their stylised crests are an indication that this is a relatively early work, most probably painted before Van Eertvelt’s departure for Italy in 1628. Upon his return from Genoa in 1630 he seems to have increasingly favoured a broader and more painterly style.
Baron van Dedem acquired this painting at auction in May 1975, one of his earliest purchases. Though given to Hendrick Vroom in the sale catalogue, Van Dedem's famous 'black book' recording all his purchases notes that both Laurens Bol and George Keyes attributed it to Andries van Eertvelt.
1 It has not been possible to trace the painting in the three paintings sales at Phillips in that year. An anonymous sale of 6 March included as lot 19 a 'Fresh breeze offshore with vessels under sail' of similar dimensions (19 x 28 inches) but this was catalogued simply as 'Powell' and was likely of a later date.
2 Bayerisches Staatsgemaldesammlungen, Staatsgalerie Schleissheim, inv. 4841.
3 Eertvelt’s prices were 14 guilders for ‘double-sized’ canvases, seven for ‘single-sized’ and four for ‘quarter-sized’, including the frame. J. Bruyn, ‘Een onderzoek naar 17de-eeuwse schilderinformaten, voornamelijk in Noord-Nederland’, Oud Holland, 9, 1891, pp. 221–24.
4 Another, the De Hollandse Tuyn, may be found in an enormous canvas by Vroom of around 1610–15 in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
5 A smaller version, signed ‘AE’ and painted on copper was sold from the collection of the New York Historical Society, New York, Sotheby’s, 12 January 1995, lot 6.
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