1623/4 – 1664 Amsterdam

Shipping off the coast of Calais

Oil on canvas, 64.3 x 39.4 cm

Signed on the ship in the middle: R. ZEEMAN


Additional image: Passenger boat to Vlissingen on the roadstead of Calais

Etching 6.5 x 12.0 cm


Netherlands, private collection



cf; The flag map of Allaard ca. 1680. HOLLSTEIN’S DUTCH & FLEMISH/ ETCHES/ ENGRAVINGS/ EN/ WOOD CARVINGS/ 1450/1700/ 2001. Reinier Nooms, called Zeeman etching (81) p. 239, ill. p.238, PASSENGER BOATS TO FLIGHT ON THE ROEADSTEAD OF CALAIS


In 1661 Nooms sailed to the Mediterranean with a Dutch fleet commanded by the famous Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, who was sent to the Barbary coast to defeat the pirates and prevent them from causing further damage to the Dutch merchantmen. Nooms made numerous sketches during the trip.

Nooms traveled extensively during his lifetime and on one of his journeys he stayed in Paris sometime between 1650 and 1652. During that time he got to know Claude Lorrain or at least must have seen some of his paintings, for Lorrain’s influence is clearly visible in his depiction of atmospheric light and depth in his Levantine paintings.

On this canvas we see French ships with the pennant of Calais in the form of a white Nordic cross on a blue background. In the middle a small carrier is unloading goods with the fortress of Calais in the distance and a Dutch flute on the far right.


Nooms brings to life almost all known ship types – no fewer than 40 – from imposing war frigates, ‘Streetships’ (that sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar) and large East Indiamen to the smallest ships that sailed 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.


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