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A Shipping Scene with a Dutch Yacht firing a Salute
Jan van de Cappelle
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Jan van de Cappelle’s sea is flat calm and luminous – even the few boats that appear to be moving hardly disturb the still reflections. But there’s a sense of drama in the picture, unusual for the artist. Clouds threaten, and a fitful sun breaks through. The barge in the foreground on the right is rowed with some urgency, and a forest of sails and masts crowd together in the middle distance. A puff of smoke from a cannon reminds us that in seventeenth-century Holland ships were for war as well as trade.

Van de Cappelle painted indoors, using both his sketches and his imagination to craft his marine views. Here, he has lengthened the masts of the boats and painted clouds far more dark and brooding than the still, shimmering water below. Van de Cappelle has successfully put the drama and atmosphere of the composition first, leaving total realism to others.

Key facts
Artist Jan van de Cappelle
Artist dates 1626 - 1679
Full title A Dutch Yacht firing a Salute as a Barge pulls away, and Many Small Vessels at Anchor
Date made 1650
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 85.5 x 114.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG965
Location in Gallery Not on display
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