LIEVE PIETERSZ. VERSCHUIER | SHIPS IN MOONLIGHT
LIEVE PIETERSZ. VERSCHUIER
(Rotterdam circa 1630 - 1686)
SHIPS IN MOONLIGHT
signed lower left: L Verschuier
oil on canvas
19¼ by 26⅜ in.; 49 by 67 cm.
The canvas has been tightly relined and is stable on its stretcher. An intricate marine scene reads well with details like the moonlight reflecting on the waves well preserved. No areas of loss or repair are visible to the naked eye. Inspection under UV reveals retouching along all 4 edges to address frame abrasion, and retouches concentrated in the upper right corner and upper right quadrant of the clouds. Fine lines of retouching are also visible in the dark areas of the shoreline, the shadows on the boats, and on the rocks at center and lower left surrounding the signature. Painting has been well attended to and can hang in its current state. Offered in a simply carved dark stained wood frame.
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Helen Laura Pearson, The Mansion House, Craigsend, Renfrewshire;
Alexander Cunninghame, 16th Laird of Craigsend;
Baillie McLellan, Glasgow;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 9 April 1965, lot 160, for 440 guineas, to Green;
With Richard Green, London;
St Lucas Gallery, The Hague [according to Müllenmeister 1973];
Herbert Girardet collection, Kettwig, by 1970;
With Charles Roelofsz, Amsterdam;
From whom acquired in the 1980s by the present owners.
Sammlung Herbert Girardet. Holländische und Flämische Meister, exhibition catalogue, Cologne and Rotterdam 1970, p. 14 and cat. no. 61, reproduced;
K.J. Müllenmeister, Meer und Land im Licht des 17. Jahrhunderts, Bremen 1973, vol. I, p. 179, reproduced in black and white;
S. Nihom-Nijstad in Réflets du siècle d'or: tableaux hollandais du dix-septième siècle, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1983, p. 150, under cat. 90 (as Seascape with ships at sunset);
G.S. Keyes, Mirror of Empire: Dutch Marine Art of the Seventeenth Century, exhibition catalogue, Cambridge 1990, p. 182.
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and Rotterdam, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Sammlung Herbert Girardet. Holländische und Flämische Meister, 24 January – 30 March and 24 April – 7 June 1970, no. 61.
This painting is a particularly fine example of the unusual lighting effects depicted by Verschuier in his atmospheric marines. Compared to his sunsets, moonlit nocturnes such as this rarely feature in his œuvre. The artist's interest in ships and shipping activities is much in evidence here. Verschuier paints a coastal scene in moonlight, with small vessels and a Dutch merchant flute firing cannon. The water ruffled by a light breeze catches the rays of moonlight, creating a lively pattern of rippling waves captured in the beams of light. Other touches of bright paint enliven the scene, for instance the flickering touches on the boat at the far left to render a fire, around which figures huddle, and the massed bank of clouds underlit by the moon.
Verschuier's work as a marine painter is wide-ranging: he painted historical events such as the Arrival of Charles II of England in Rotterdam (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) and The Fire of London (Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest); shipping scenes, of which the most unusual depict the whaling industry; and smaller pictures of coastal scenes at sunset or in moonlight, as here. Only one dated picture, of 1661, is known (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Saskia Nihom-Nijstad has pointed out the close relationship between Ships in moonlight and a painting of the same dimensions, Ships in a bay at sunset, in the celebrated Lugt collection at the Fondation Custodia, Paris. Similar in its arrangement of boats and in the treatment of the figure at the far right, she dates the latter c. 1660, which accords well with the style of this picture. The analogy is reiterated by George S. Keyes in his exhibition catalogue Mirror of Empire (see Literature).