(Kortrijk ca. 1564 – after 1622 Haarlem)
The East Indiaman ‘Amsterdam’ and a large number of Amsterdam warships at sea, ca. 1600
Oil on panel, 87.5 x 156 cm
Signed on bale lower right: H. Savery
Formerly Rob Kattenburg Collection
Purchased by the Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam
2002, Hans Savery the Elder – An extremely rare and important marine painting – The Dutch East Indiaman AMSTERDAM together with several Amsterdam man-of-war in stormy weather
The present painting is the key work of Hans Savery the Elder and by far the largest. Not more than a handful of his signed works is known, together with a few attributed pictures. Only works attributed to him can be found in museums in the Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has a painting attributed to Hans Savery the Elder, depicting a whale that has been washed up on the coast of Noordwijk (inv. no. A 2526). The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam has another attributed work on display, a painting depicting ships in a storm (coll. Van der Vorm). Savery’s colouring, easily recognised, and the rhythmic sweep of the waves, so characteristic of his work, both play a role in attribution. In the event the present painting is fully signed and by far the most important source of material for comparison.
The present painting clearly shows that he worked as a mannerist marine painter in the tradition of Pieter Brueghel the Elder. In fact, Hans Savery the Elder seems to be the missing link between that famous Flemish artist of the second half of the sixteenth century and the great Haarlem marine artists of the beginning of the seventeenth century, such as Hendrick Cornelisz. Vroom, Cornelis Verbeeck and Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen.The painting depicts in the foreground and in the background a great number of beautifully painted ships on a stormy sea, approximately 25 in all. Many seamen are working the sails and the rigging. There are signs of panic everywhere, e.g. on the ship on the extreme right of the painting, the sails are strewn all over the deck.
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