In the grey early light of morning, on a glassy sea, the boats in van de Cappelle’s painting hardly seem to move. There’s no wind, the sails are hardly filled, nothing disturbs the water. Even the clouds seem buoyed up in the air like balloons bouncing along gently in the vast sky.
Close to us, an old fence has collapsed. It’s as if the tide has swept it away to give us a better view of the tranquil scene: fishermen in small craft almost as motionless as the water, waiting for a catch, and a boat with its topsail hoisted to catch what little breeze there is. On the left is a smallschip (a small craft designed for sailing close to shore) with the Dutch flag hanging limp. Far away on the right is the tower of a church that resembles Saint Lawrence’s in Rotterdam.
You will find van de Cappelle’s sense of calm, of limpid light and huge distance in his other paintings, for example A River Scene with Dutch Vessels Becalmed and Vessels Moored off a Jetty.
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