Germany, private collection
Reinier Nooms, also known as Zeeman, who reached the peak of his career in the mid-seventeenth century, was one of Amsterdam’s most prominent and renowned marine painters.
He was born in 1623 or 1624, probably in Amsterdam. On April 6, 1653, he married Maria Jansdr Mozijn or Mouzijn, the older sister of the engraver Michiel Mozijn, with whom Nooms collaborated at least twice.
Nooms stayed in Paris sometime between 1650 and 1652, where he may have been introduced to the art of etching, possibly trained in the workshop of Michiel van Plattenberg.
Shortly after his return from Paris, he self-published a few prints, but he must have concluded some sort of trade agreement with Cornelis Danckerts. As in his paintings, the artistic challenge of capturing the atmospheric effects of depth and light can also be seen in his etchings.
Reinier Nooms became acquainted with Claude Lorrain during his stay in Paris or at least must have seen his naval paintings, because Lorrain’s influence is clearly visible in his depictions of the Levant.
In 1661 Nooms sailed with a Dutch fleet to the Mediterranean under the command of the famous Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, who had been sent to the Barbary coast to defeat the pirates and prevent them from causing further damage to Dutch merchantmen. Nooms made numerous sketches during the trip. Despite the fact that Reinier Nooms’ career only lasted ten years, he has achieved great things in that short time.
He is regarded as one of the most important Dutch maritime artists of the seventeenth century after the Van de Veldes, and in addition to his oeuvre of naval paintings, he is unanimously regarded as the greatest etcher of ships and cityscapes. His etchings are one of the most important sources for the identification of ship types, making his work invaluable to maritime historians and restorers of antique model ships.
Nooms brings to life almost all known ship types – no less than 40 – from impressive war frigates, ‘Streetships’ (passing through the Strait of Gibraltar) and large East Indiamen, to the smallest vessels that sailed on the inland waterways. His pursuit of a faithful representation of reality is reflected in his entire oeuvre, which consists of views of the port of Amsterdam, the Levant, naval battles and many drawings.
In this Levantine painting, Nooms has depicted several ships with a mountain landscape on the right with some figures in the foreground.