Antwerp 1590 – 1652

A battle between Spanish galleons and Dutch warships in front of a rugged coastline

Oil on copper 44 x 68. 4 cm

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Provenance: London, C. Turner collection; Bonn, Nell Collection;

Acquired by the grandfather of the current owner in the 1920’s.

Viewed from a high vantage point, a battle is played out in front of a fortified coastline. In the foreground a Spanish galleon – with a cross atop the mast and the Madonna and Child embellished over its red and white stripped flag – rows to an English three-masted gun, an English cannon and to Spanish muskets firing at each other. Other warships, which carry the flag of the United Provinces, can be seen further on. An old label on the back of the copper plate identifies the work as The Battle of Gibraltar by Hendrik Vroom, who designed the ten tapestries depicting the English navy against the Spanish Armada that hung in the House of Lords before being damaged by fire.


Andries van Eertvelt was born in Antwerp in 1590, where he became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1609/10. He is generally regarded as the first Flemish marine painter of the seventeenth century. His work, however, reflects the lasting influence of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. There is a discernible ‘Dutch’ influence in van Eertvelt’s work, which may have come from Hendrick Vroom, although van Eertvelt was not necessarily Vroom’s pupil. Eertvelt lived in Italy, 1628-30, with the painter Cornelis de Wael in Genoa. After his stay in Italy, van Eertvelt was probably painted by van Dyck in 1632. His high reputation is reflected in the celebration of his work in ‘Het Gulden Cabinet van de Edel Vry Schilderconst’ by Cornelis de Bie (The Golden Cabinet of the Honorable Free Art of Painting). Reportedly, his pupils were Hendrick van Minderhout, Matthieu van Plattenberg, Sebastian Castro and Kasper van Eyck.


The strong brushwork is exemplary of Eertvelt’s style furioso, which seems to be derived from the work of Agostino Tassi and would be crucial for the development of the Flemish seventeenth-century seascape.



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