Action between the Dutch fleet and barbary pirates
A large fleet of Dutch merchantmen is shown in action with some of the Moslem corsairs who operated from the Barbary coast of North Africa. A Barbary galley is shown in port-broadside view in the foreground, with the motif of the crescent prominently featured in gold on the stern. Figures in the bow and stern, bearing quivers of arrows on their backs, aim their bows at the ship towering immediately behind. This flies the Dutch flag and pennant at her maintop and has her sails full of shot holes. Other men wearing turbans can be seen pulling on the galley's oars, above which its mainmast has partly fallen, draping the lower part of its lateen sail over the port apostis or rowing frame. Some corsairs on the far right can be seen leaping off the bow of a sinking vessel while others hold on to a rope and are being pulled towards the galley. A pair of white swans carved as a figurehead are still visible on the sinking ship as it lurches under the waves. The stern of the galley's main antagonist is ornately carved and shows a lion in the centre flanked by two figures blowing trumpets. On either side a pair of female figures draped in white, and the ensign staff bears a red flag with the motif of an outstretched arm holding a sword. This is the fighting ensign of Ostend. To the right is another Dutch ship which has been captured by the corsairs. They can be seen in the rigging with their bows and with flaming torches to set the ship alight. They have placed their flag on the stern, which is painted with an Old Testament scene showing a prophet praying in front of an altar with a golden sun on it. Another Barbary galley on the far right flies a white flag with a golden lion on it while, behind, the sails of a ship are already well ablaze. On the far left another two galleys can be seen attacking a Dutch ship.
Lieve Pietersz Verschuier
- Image reference: BHC0849
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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