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Ludolf Bakhuizen, Dutch Men-of-war off Enkhuizen

Key facts
Full title Dutch Men-of-war and Small Vessels in a Fresh Breeze off Enkhuizen
Artist Ludolf Bakhuizen
Artist dates 1630/1 - 1708
Date made 1683
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 100.5 × 136.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Richard Simmons Bequest, 1846
Inventory number NG204
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Dutch Men-of-war off Enkhuizen
Ludolf Bakhuizen

Towering storm clouds threaten vessels fighting choppy waves on the Zuiderzee – once an inlet of the North Sea in the north coast of the Netherlands. The man-of-war (battleship) sailing away from us on the right flies the Dutch flag and has the arms of Amsterdam on its stern, as does the smaller boat, a boyer yacht, pitching forward on the wash from the vessels ahead.

In spite of the presence of the men-of-war, Bakhuizen’s main feature is the wijdschip (‘wide ship’), a much less glamorous vessel widely used on the Zuiderzee. The sea was the usual mode of transport for the Dutch so they were used its many moods. Someone here seems to stretch that relaxed attitude to danger by having a picnic – an old woman eats her soup only a few feet above the water, unconcerned with anything but her meal.

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