de jonckheere old masters

Abraham Storck

Seascape with view of a seashore animated by figures

Canvas: 33 x 44 cm
Signed A. Storck F bottom right


This seascape is a wonderful synthesis of Storck’s talent for this genre. The precision of this Amsterdam painter in the rendering of the boat’s technical details earned him the admiration of all the specialists in the field. In this large painting with its harmonious range of colours, the painter places the viewer at the heart of a maritime view, close to a seashore where fashionable folk are strolling.

The painting portrays the activities of the sailing ships belonging to the Dutch East India Company and Dutch West India Company, which monopolised trade bound for West Africa (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope), America, including the Pacific Ocean, the eastern part of New Guinea and Asia. The two companies, founded in 1621 and 1602 respectively, were indubitably the main protagonists in the Dutch colonization of America, China and India. This is the reason why seascapes developed in Holland and Flanders above all. The paintings weren’t painted for the aristocrats or royalty but for merchants and shipowners, who made the new Dutch Republic the most prosperous and commercial nation in Europe.

The painter doesn’t simply stop at the portrayal of the sea, he also demonstrates his ability to depict human figures. The man on the right is interesting; he is looking in the distance through the lens of his telescope, an instrument invented at the beginning of the 17th century by the Dutch optician Hans Lippershey. The beauty of the panorama, the detailed nature of the composition as well as the close attention paid to the characters’ garments, make this a captivating work. This painting has similarities with the bigger version kept at Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum. It has the same framework: a headland dotted with characters and a sea filled with sumptuous or more modest tall ships, with Dutch flags aplenty flying from their masts.

Provenance :
De Jonckheere Gallery, 1992;
Private collection, France.