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Jan van Os, Dutch Vessels in Calm Water

Key facts
Full title Dutch Vessels in Calm Water
Artist Jan van Os
Artist dates 1744 - 1808
Date made probably 1770-85
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 32.1 × 42.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Arthur Kay, 1895
Inventory number NG1462
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Dutch Vessels in Calm Water
Jan van Os

In one picture, Jan van Os manages to combine feelings of tranquillity and industry. The sea is calm but dotted with craft. Overhead, puffy clouds seem to hang motionless, but the sails of the small boat coming towards us in the centre are filled with wind.

The passenger ship on the right flies two flags. The tiny monogram on the white central band of the Dutch flag – ‘VOC’ – shows that this vessel belongs the Dutch East India Company, the powerful trading organisation largely responsible for the upsurge in commerce in the Netherlands.

Van Os, like the greater part of the population, must have been aware of the importance of the company to the prosperity of the country, and perhaps includes the flags as a reminder of its role in their lives.

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