(Haarlem 1562/3 – 1640)
An Enhuizer pinas in a storm surrounded by whales with a second ship right on the horizon ca. 1590
Oil on canvas, 103 x 103 cm.
Signed on the flag in the foremast: VROOM
Provenance: Possibly wine merchant Albert Martsz. Amsterdam 1615. According to his inventory it is mentioned as ” Een stuck voor de schoorsteen met schepen gedaen by Vroom tot Haerlem’’; Netherlands, private collection.
Exhibited: Tentoonstelling van Nederlandsche zee- en riviergezichten uit de XVIIde eeuw, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1945-12-22 – 1946-02-03, p. 35; cat.nr. 71; Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Zoet & Zout – Water en de Nederlanders, 14 februari – 10 juni 2012.
Literature: Goedde, L.O., Tempest and shipwreck in Dutch and Flemish art: convention, rhetoric, and interpretation, London 1989, pp. 84-86; Russell, M., Visions of the Sea. Hendrick C. Vroom and the origins of Dutch marine painting, Leiden 1983, p. 114-115, ill. 116; Bol, L.J. Die Hollandische Marinemalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Braunschweig , p. 16. Wilson, T. Flags at Sea. ill Plate VI p. 69. Maritieme Encyclopedie, Bussum 1972, vol. V, pp. 270-271. Beylen, J. van, Schepen van de Nederlanden, Van de late middeleeuwen tot het einde van de 17de eeuw, Amsterdam 1970, pp. 95 – 101.
This remarkable painting by Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom, the founder of the European marine painting shows a pinas in a storm surrounded by whales in the dark swirling green waves.
The presence of large fish or whale is a common motif in the early part of the century and generally represents the unknown, monstrous dangers of the deep. This allegorical scene might refer to potential danger rather than certain danger. This would have, also, carried moral overtones for a seventeenth century audience.
In this case, it could also represent whaling, as an exceptionally dangerous business both physically and economically. Whaling was considered an admirable occupation. Oil was needed for light and lubrication; baleen was needed for skirt hoops and corset stays. That whales had to die to provide these things is a fact of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century life.
The ship as a symbol was open to a number of different interpretations, from the ‘Ship of State’ to the ‘Ship of Life’. Metaphorically, the spectator would be reminded that the safe stewardship of a ship demanded vigilance, wisdom, caution and prudence and, in case of the ‘Ship of Life’, God’s guidance.
The artist has shown members of the crew to indicate that they are in control and will steer the ship to safety but must exercise vigilance, care and watchfulness. There is an emphasis on human perseverance in the face of great peril. On account of its dimensions this storm was in past literature thought to be a fragment of a bigger painting. However, recent technical studies reveal, that the painting never has been shortened and at completion was already square.
Supposedly, it was part of a decoration program. From records of Prins Frederik Hendrik we can deduce that this or a very similar one was hanging as a ‘supraporta’ in the west-wing of the ‘Huis ter Nieuburg’ were Amalia van Solms had her private quarters. The ‘Huis ter Nieuburg’ near Rijswijk was completed in 1634, probably to the design of Jacques de Vallee and served as residence of the House of Orange. The decoration program under the supervision of Jacob van Campen was completed in 1638, just two years before Vroom’s death. The dilapidated building was demolished in 1709.Discover more about Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom his Biography.
Visit to our gallery
You are welcome to enjoy our collection of paintings at your leisure.
Visit by appointment only
Mon to fri by phone 10:00 – 18:00
1851 PS Heiloo, Netherlands
By appointment only
Monday to Friday
From 10:00 till 18:00