Jan Porcellis

Jan Porcellis (1580/84-1632), Bewegte See mit Fregatten, zwischen 1620-32, Öl auf Holz, Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg, Inv. Nr. K-970
Jan Porcellis (1580/84-1632), Moving Sea with Frigates, between 1620-32, oil on wood, Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg, inv. no. K-970

Choppy sea with frigates, between 1620-32

The oldest painting of this exhibition is by Jan Porcellis, who is one of the earliest representatives of marine painting and was already highly regarded among artists during his lifetime – even Rembrandt (1606-1669) owned works by him. Smaller sailing ships and warships fight against the agitated sea. The fishing boat in the foreground on the left attracts the viewer‘s attention: It is grazed by a ray of light that falls on the water and illuminates the foaming waves. This light makes the boat appear three-dimensional, and the people on board are clearly visible. Light-dark contrasts characterise the picture,
the colour palette is reduced to grey-brown tones. Only the Dutch flags are splashes of colour. The short
wave beat as well as the distant coastlines are typical features of the Dutch „Aquae interiores“.

In the 1920s, marine painting underwent a change from richly coloured, narrative documentation to a simpler pictorial composition. The correct reproduction of nature is now more in focus. The brushstroke becomes looser and more visible, creating a sense of movement on the canvas and thus a more powerful mood. Jan Porcellis was one of the first to take the reality-based view of Dutch painting in his pewter-coloured seascapes. He was probably a pupil of the founder of marine painting, Hendrick Cornelisz. Vroom (c. 1563-1640) and is considered the pioneer of so-called „tonalist“ marine painting, which works with a smaller colour palette and finer colour gradations.