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Simon de Vlieger, A View of an Estuary

Key facts
Full title A View of an Estuary, with Dutch Vessels at a Jetty and a Dutch Man-of-War at Anchor
Artist Simon de Vlieger
Artist dates about 1601 - 1653
Date made about 1645-50
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 88.5 × 122 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Lord Revelstoke Bequest, 1929
Inventory number NG4455
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A View of an Estuary
Simon de Vlieger

Two Dutch men-of-war are lying at peace, but with their function abundantly clear: the gun ports are open and their canon protruding. Presumably this is for maintenance or as part of a drill; at anchor in a quiet estuary there would be no other reason to have guns at the ready.

For Simon de Vlieger’s contemporaries, such a scene would have undoubtedly evoked reassuring thoughts of national security and the naval power for which Holland was famous. And they would have immediately recognised the national flags and insignia displayed on the frigates. The nearer one has the arms of the Province of Holland on its stern and a Dutch flag at the top of the main mast, and there is a Dutch ensign at the stern of the more distant frigate. The boats at the jetty are service vessels which may be running supplies or people out to the men-of-war.

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