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Dutch Men-of-War off a Craggy Coast

Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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De Vlieger favoured serene, undisturbed seas. Here, two Dutch men-of-war lie at anchor well off the fantastical, craggy coastline. Painted in de Vlieger’s characteristic herring-like grey and subtly suffused with wintry light, the shallow waters are perceived from a very low viewpoint and the sea is illuminated only in the centre. This same tonality is echoed in the sweeping sky, where the edges appear considerably darker and cloudier than the vast, lucent sphere in the middle. The warships floating peacefully, on the left, serve primarily to counterbalance the activity taking place on the right. A collection of men is shown ashore. Three figures stand in a group around a basket of fish, while two other men, dressed in red, stand in conversation nearby. They have come ashore seeking food, leaving their small boats behind in the shallows. Mountain goats, visible high atop the cliff in the distance, may be connotative of the sailors’ difficulty in finding food and appear in several works by the artist, notably the 'Dutch Ships Revictualling off a Rocky Coast' (BHC0778).

National Maritime Museum



1637/early 1640s


oil on panel


H 56 x W 106.4 cm

Accession number


Work type



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National Maritime Museum

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