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Jan van de Cappelle, Vessels Moored off a Jetty

Key facts
Full title Vessels Moored off a Jetty
Artist Jan van de Cappelle
Artist dates 1626 - 1679
Date made probably 1650-60
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 35.2 × 42.3 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Misses Rachel F. and Jean I. Alexander; entered the Collection, 1972
Inventory number NG6406
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Vessels Moored off a Jetty
Jan van de Cappelle

The sense of activity on the boats and the jetty give a greater sense of movement than in many of Jan van de Cappelle’s paintings. But, as is usual, the sea is flat and calm, giving subtle reflections of the vessels, the clouds and two porpoises swimming calmly on the left.

The pilings by the jetty and closer to us, blackened and dripping with weed, give a sense of age and permanence, almost as if van de Cappelle’s vision of the sea as calm and unthreatening is true. The geometry of their shapes, heavy and firm, is repeated – but with finer, cobwebby lines – by the masts, booms and ropes of the two vessels beyond them.

Sadly the condition of the painting prevents us from seeing the full misty atmosphere the artist intended to evoke through his subtle handling of the colours.

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