(Rotterdam 1627 – Rotterdam 1686)
Shipping on the Maas near Rotterdam with Setting Sun. On the left a Flute and on the right the ‘Boompjes’ and an Admiralty Yacht
Oil on canvas, 118.4 x 183.3 cm
Indistinctly signed on barge lower center
Provenance: Sir John Gladstone, 1st Bt., (1764-1851) and by descent to his eldest son, Sir Thomas Gladstone, 2nd Bt., (1804-1889), thence by descent at Fasque, Aberdeenshire; private collection, The Hague (NL)
A Summer’s Evening on the Maas
The evening sun sets the sky on fire and bathes the scene in an almost southern light. The Boompjes can be seen on the right. Despite the late hour, the broad river is crowded with vessels. On the left is a flute with a raven on the stern, behind it is a large warship. Little boats ply up and down. Judging by the prince’s flag on the stern post, the magnificent yacht on the right is an admiralty yacht. A barge ferries a senior official to the warship. The ship turned on to its port side is interesting. It is being careened; workers are burning fouling off the ship’s hull.
In this painting Verschuier has left us an imposing work of art that provides a fascinating picture of nature and human activity. In 1698 Spaan described him as an excellent painter of dawn scenes, shipping and water, and also a good sculptor.
It is generally assumed, Lieve Pietersz. Verschuier was born in Rotterdam, but we first encounter him in a document dated 13 March 1652 which reveals that he was residing in Amsterdam at the time. We do not know whether he was serving an apprenticeship with a painter there. In 1653 Verschuier was back in Rotterdam where he made his will prematurely, ‘beeltsnijder ziekelijk zijnde’ (being an ailing sculptor.) According to Houbraken (1721), the artist’s biographer, he must have gone to Rome after 1653. His stay in the Eternal City was a brief one and he returned to Rotterdam in 1656. In 1674 Lieve was appointed sculptor at the national shipyard and even rose to become ‘head man’ of the St. Lucasgilde (Guild of St Luke). The painter and sculptor, was buried in the French Church in Rotterdam on 17 December 1686.
Unfortunately, nothing has survived of the magnificent carvings that Lieve must have produced for the Rotterdam Admiralty. We know of some seventy-five of his paintings. The most outstanding of them are scenes of ships at dusk with poetic clouds and cloud formations, and dazzling sunsets that are reminiscent of the work of Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600- Rome 1682). It is likely that Lieve Verschuier saw paintings by this renowned master when he was in Rome.
Lieve Verschuier’s father, the Rotterdam sculptor Pieter Verschuier, was responsible for the woodcarving of Stadholder William II’s Royal Yacht. His son followed him in this profession and seems to have mainly worked as a sculptor of ship decoration at the Rotterdam docks. Houbraken (1712) states that Verschuier traveled Italy in the 1650s. Here he may have visited Claude Lorrain at the Via Paolina (today Via del Babuino). The influence of the older French painter is undeniable; in past times paintings by Verschuier have even been sold under the name of Claude Lorrain. The present painting is in terms of scale and ambition comparable with the artist’s best works such as the Rijksmuseum’s Arrival of Charles II in Rotterdam.
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