Whalers in the ice
This fairly large so-called pen-painting provides a graphic description of whaling practices of the 17th century. A number of three-masters anchor among the pack ice, two of them just reefing their sails. The carcasses of the hunted whales float between the ice floes and the ships, while sailors in rowing boats and on the ice prepare to strip the animals' blubber. Dutch whaling in the Arctic had started in the early 17th century, driven by the economic aims of the Noordsche Compagnie, or North Company, part of the Dutch fleet. Dutch whalers were sailing up the coast of Greenland and of Norway where they found themselves competing with the British. Dutch whaling reached its peak between 1680 and 1725. It is, therefore, not surprising that the pictorial adaptation of this industry in Dutch art, which itself depended on artists' specialization, also saw an increase during the last quarter of the 17th century. 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, which 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. In contrast to Willem van de Velde, the Elder, however, Salm's technique is based on the use of washes of grey ink and paint rather than hatching to indicate dark or shadowed areas.
Adriaen van Salm
- Image reference: BHC0956
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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