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A dramatic portrayal of two Dutch East Indiamen who may have returned from a journey overseas. The ship on the left, in distant port-quarter view, has a scene painted on her stern depicting a pavilion with trees, possibly palm trees and thus a reference to her exotic trade associations. Men are portrayed in the rigging, working on the sails. In the centre foreground, a smalschip sails into wind and six men can be seen in her stern. A smalschip, meaning narrow ship, took its name from its ability to negotiate locks on inland waterways. One of the men gestures towards the ship on the far right, seen in port-bow view with a carved figurehead of a lion. The deck is laden with men busy on various tasks as it prepares to anchor. The two ships are flying Dutch flags and a plain red jack. In the far distance, a landscape can be seen on either side of the picture. To the far left, this includes a skyline of church towers, and to the right, the curved shape of dunes, suggesting this is an estuary scene or a channel between islands on the Dutch coast. Strong contrasts of light and dark dominate both sea and sky, and the striking formation of the clouds dominates the top-half of the image. The artist has signed his name on the buoy in the centre foreground.
oil on canvas
H 102 x W 137 cm