Dutch herring fishery
Adriaen van Salm (1657-1720) worked as a schoolmaster and textile merchant in Delfshaven near Rotterdam. He also specialised in pen-painting, a branch of Dutch 17th century maritime painting that experimented with the pictorial effects of blurring the boundaries between painting and the more linear graphic arts. Such scenes were executed in grisaille, a black and white rendering. This scene shows various busses, herring fishing vessels, retrieving their nets in a fresh breeze. The artist has atmospherically captured the rolling of the boats on the waves under the clear sky, but the composition is actually carefully built around the central perspective created by the arrangement of the ships towards the low horizon and accentuated by the contrasting flat diagonal of the advancing waves. The image's spatial recession is enhanced by the technique of the pen-painting itself. Lines and shapes become lighter towards the horizon, whereas the foreground areas are kept darker by employing parallel hatching. The artist's signature appears on a plank of wood floating in the lower right. During the 17th century the herring fishery formed one of the pillars of the Dutch economy. Van Salm's tackling of the theme reflects the industry's importance, but at the same time the picture relates to the tradition of the undramatic Dutch seascape depicting everyday life in the North Sea, founded by artists such as Jan Porcellis in the first half of the 17th century.
Adriaen van Salm
- Image reference: BHC0967
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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