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In this painting Storck conveys the commotion of the arriving and departing travellers around the Tollhouse on the north side of the River IJ near Amsterdam. In the foreground Storck depicts two rowing boats, transporting people from the Amsterdam quay to the Tollhouse. The silhouette of Amsterdam can be seen in the distance on the right, and the little boat’s destination – the Haringpakkerij (Herring factory) and the Nieuwe Stadsherberg (New City Inn) – is visible between the ships. The Tollhouse was built on the southern point of the Volewijk in 1662. A toll was collected here for the maintenance of the road and canal to the village of Buiksloot in the north. For two-and-a-half centuries the Tollhouse drew visitors from Amsterdam and afar. They came to enjoy the magnificent view of the city and the ships on the IJ. The attraction of the nearby gallows-field – the place of public execution – cannot be underestimated.
The painting originally hung above an arched door and therefore had a curved hollow at the bottom. At a later stage, a piece of canvas was added to the bottom and painted with waves to give it a rectangular shape. A further addition, probably intended to give the painting more conventional proportions, was a broad strip of canvas atop the composition extending the clouded sky. In the first half of the nineteenth century it was in the collection of J. M. W. Turner.
The added canvas strips now removed have been remounted above and below a black-and-white image of the painting as BHC0931.1.
Ships on the River IJ in Front of the Tollhouse near Amsterdam
oil on canvas
H 66.5 x W 149.5 cm