Dutch yachts racing
In this unusually large painting from the 1630s, van Eertvelt depicts a dramatic scene of Dutch yachts sailing in a stiff breeze off a northern European coast. In the composition the heavy, dark-green rolling waves of the foreground are seen from an elevated viewpoint with single waves rising into curved yet triangular shapes. Here, two men in an open craft attend to an upturned boat. On the far left, a man clings to the hull of a vessel upon which the artist's initials have been inscribed. Beyond the foreground the perspective changes and, except for the nearest two yachts, all vessels are depicted at eye-level creating the impression of a maze of masts and sails before the horizon. The scene is intensly dramatic and vivid. Sunlight streaming in from the left under the dark rain-clouds accentuates the taut sails, which in turn contribute to the picture's overall sense of competitive vigour. As the title (which is a later addition) indicates, the subject has in the past been identified as a race on the Zuider Zee, which would make this picture a very early and somewhat isolated example of such an event in the seventeenth century. But since the movements of the yachts do not appear to follow a specific course, there can be no certainty to this hypothesis.
Andries van Eertvelt
- Image reference: BHC0741
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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