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Ludolf Bakhuizen, An English Vessel and a Man-of-war in a Rough Sea

Key facts
Full title An English Vessel and a Man-of-war in a Rough Sea off a Coast with Tall Cliffs
Artist Ludolf Bakhuizen
Artist dates 1630/1 - 1708
Date made probably 1680s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 98.5 × 132 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG819
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
An English Vessel and a Man-of-war in a Rough Sea
Ludolf Bakhuizen

Exciting pictures of ships pounded by high waves with a threatening sky overhead were Ludolf Bakhuizen’s speciality. One of the finest of the late seventeenth-century Dutch marine painters, his skills in portraying the turbulence of the sea were famous. The sea in Bakhuizen’s pictures has real depth and weight and the waves are painted with a rhythm and flow.

In this picture, the gale blowing off the sea puts one vessel – flying the English flag at the stern and the St George’s cross on the main mast – at risk from the high cliffs in the background. Its sails belly out, stretched to the full, straining at the ropes that hold them. If the sailor at the helm steering the vessel isn't strong enough to keep it on course in such waves, it could be hurled against them and broken up like matchsticks.

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