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Ludolf Bakhuizen, Dutch Men-of-war entering a Mediterranean Port

Key facts
Full title Dutch Men-of-war entering a Mediterranean Port
Artist Ludolf Bakhuizen
Artist dates 1630/1 - 1708
Date made 1681
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 118.5 × 163 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss Sarah Solly, 1879
Inventory number NG1050
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Dutch Men-of-war entering a Mediterranean Port
Ludolf Bakhuizen

A fresh breeze, a choppy sea – sails billow, flags fly high and proud. This painting is a piece of patriotic propaganda.

The man-of-war (or battleship) at anchor on the left in the Mediterranean harbour flies the Dutch flag at its stern. Only one sail is furled and the gun ports are open with the canons still protruding. The great ship has just arrived in port but is still a force to be reckoned with.

Bakhuizen always painted real ships alive and responding to a real sea that has depth and power. He shows the rigging (ropes that hoist and control the sails) with great accuracy. He shows sailors at their work, always busy – but orderly. His paintings are physical. You can almost feel the wind and the spray, hear the slap of the rigging and the flap of the flags.

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