By viewing this picture, the thoughts of Schouman’s contemporaries almost certainly derived to the French invasion of 1795, which took place at the very same spot, where the Dordtse Kil mouths in Hollands Diep. The event is subject of some of Schouman’s early paintings. The ‘Lantern at the End of the Kil’ was eventually depicted by the painter’s great-uncle, Aert Schouman (coll. Erfgoedcentrum Diep, inv. nr. 551-30395). Martinus went to study for some time with his great-uncle in The Hague, but soon returned to his birthplace, because, according to Van der Aa ‘he had subsequently dedicated himself to painting ship-, sea- and water sights, and in Dordrecht he could study after nature better than anywhere else, and ever since he gained fame as the foremost master in his craft’.
As the son of a skipper, Martinus Schouman had great knowledge of maritime practise. The best of his paintings can be regarded a reliable source of information on the current types of ships during the painter’s lifetime. To the front left there’s a hengst, a clinker built vessel under sprit rig. Originally developed for fishing and mussel culture in the Zeeland and Zuid-Holland areas, later it merely functioned for transport, mailing and ferrying.
The galjas in the midst of the composition suffers from a detached topgallant sail, fluttering on the rising wind. In many senses a galjas resembles a cutter, it finds its origin in Denmark and the North of Germany. Hallmarked by a protruding flat stern, the galjas was in use by Scandinavians, the German and the Dutch. The depicted ship has been rigged atypically as a galjoot or brig, which is a sign of its Dutch fabrication. Around 1820 just three ships of the kind were constructed at the Dordrecht docksyards, ’t Goed Fortuin (1819), Zeldenrust (1820) en de Marianna (1822).
The small ship to the front right was known under the name ‘Amsterdam ketch’, as is witnessed by an annotated drawing of Pieter Aartsze Blaauw (Fries Scheepvaartmuseum, Sneek, inv. nr. 1978-034). It’s hard to distinguish this late type of ketch from a tjalk. According to Le Comte (1831), the terms lighter, gaff ketch and gaff ship could also be applied. It sails under spritsail and flies the flag of the city of Dordrecht at stern.