Maritime Art

An Algerine Ship off a Barbary Port

By Andries Van Eertvelt, 1590-1652

This painting forms a part of a collection of 79 early Netherlandish marine paintings purchased in 1963 with the assistance of the Society from the widow of Captain Eric Palmer.

Eric Palmer (1896–1961), a great character, was one of the Palmer shipbuilding family and was long connected with the Museum as its advisor on the early Netherlandish school. He amassed both a great collection and great self-taught knowledge after previously collecting old masters, which he disposed of when his interest changed to maritime art.

This painting, by Andries van Eertvelt, is an evocation of an imaginary North African port, and represents a theme very common in early Netherlandish marine art – a fascination with the Muslim maritime world, in this case a ship of the Barbary State of Algiers, one of the Barbary states renowned for piracy and the enslavement of Christians in the seventeenth century.

Eertvelt was particularly significant in the development of maritime art as he was one of the earliest Flemish artists to paint seascapes and became renowned for his skill at depicting the maritime world and several of his pupils became prominent maritime artists. It has been suggested that he taught Gaspar van Eyck, Matthieu van Plattenberg, Hendrik van Minderhout, the leading Flemish marine painter Bonaventura Peeters and Sebastian Castro.

Eertvelt was particularly well known for his battle scenes and depictions of storms. This image, therefore, is interesting as it represents a calmer, quieter strand of Eertvelt’s work, even if the subject matter suggests a long-term maritime conflict.

Eertvelt was also active as an engraver and the current whereabouts one of his etchings depicting the frozen river Scheldt in 1621 and another of the fort ‘Vlaams Hoofd’ in Antwerp, both mentioned in contemporary texts, remain unknown.

For Mariner’s Mirror articles on the role of the Barbary States, click here.




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