The Haarlem marine painter Pieter Mulier the Elder preferably painted on panel. The representation of a three-master on the horizon is his trademark. Pieter Mulier is a good representative of the so-called Gray or Monochrome School from the second quarter of the 17th century. The atmospheric representation is clearly influenced by the work of the pioneer and founder of this school, Jan Porcellis. With his tonalist paintings, this was of particular importance to maritime artists, not only Mulier, but also to his son Julius Porcellis and his brother-in-law Hendrick van Anthonissen, as well as Cornelis Stooter, Hendrick Staets, Hans Goderis and Simon de Vlieger. In the past, many paintings by Pieter Mulier the Elder were incorrectly attributed to Simon de Vlieger.
Despite his fame in life, the artist fell into obscurity after the seventeenth century. How highly his paintings were valued is evident from the inventory of arms dealer Laurens Mauritsz Douci, drawn up on 18 Jan 1669 by none other than Ferdinand Bol and Gerrit Uylenburgh. Mulier’s work is valued higher than Simon de Vlieger’s ‘grauwtjes’, whose collection included no fewer than ten works. The museum in Budapest has many works by the painter, none of which, however, comes close to the quality of the work presented here.