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Simon de Vlieger, A Dutch Man-of-war and Various Vessels in a Breeze

Key facts
Full title A Dutch Man-of-war and Various Vessels in a Breeze
Artist Simon de Vlieger
Artist dates about 1601 - 1653
Date made about 1638-45
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 41.2 × 54.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1915
Inventory number NG3025
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Dutch Man-of-war and Various Vessels in a Breeze
Simon de Vlieger

Boats of all shapes and sizes are working hard to navigate a stiff breeze which is whipping up the tops of the waves and flattening the sails tight against the rigging. In the middle distance, on the right, is a frigate; in the left foreground there’s a gaff-rigged transport boat or wijdschip. Both are battling to sail as close to the direction of the wind as possible. Others, such as the small open boat in the foreground, are running with it and must be travelling at some speed.

The fact that the water has remained relatively calm despite the strong wind, coupled with the sheer number of vessels sailing so close together and the presence of a very small open boat, suggests we must be in relatively sheltered waters. Most likely this is set in the Rhine delta in southern Holland, where the river separates into a series of wide estuaries around Rotterdam, the town where Simon de Vlieger was born.

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