Shipping on a calm sea


Abraham de VERWER

Amsterdam c. 1585 – 1650 Amsterdam

Shipping on a calm sea

Pen in brown ink, brush in brown and gray ink; dark-brown ink framing lines.

151 x 317 mm (5-7/8 x 12-1/2 in).

WATERMARK: none. (R37)
CHAIN LINES: horizontal, 27-30 mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: signed verwer at lower right (pen in brown ink); verso, at center A H Verveer, Dordrecht 1646. (pencil); at upper left Verwer henry hubert (pencil); at lower left corner Verws 2247/ 11 and to the far right 2247 (pencil); at the upper right N3147/ Rowlandson wash line (pencil).
PROVENANCE: A. Chariatte, London.

Tobias Christ, Basel, his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 9 April 1981, lot 47.

Robert Noortman, London and Maastricht.

Sale, Amsterdam, Christie’s, 25 November 1992, lot 614, acquired at the sale.

LITERATURE: Henkel 1931, p. 119, plate 47.

Chudzikowski 1957, p. 673, fig. 10.

EXHIBITIONS: Robinson, Franklin W. and Peck, Sheldon. Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Drawings from the Peck Collection. Chapel Hill/ Ithaca/ Worcester. 1999-2001. Published catalogue.

This limpid, serene drawing gives a sense of the shifting patterns of light and shadow on the surface of the water, without a ripple, under a high cloudless sky.  This work, executed in pen and brown ink and brown wash, with touches of gray wash in the rigging and the distant town, is different in effect from Verwer’s sketchy, unwashed landscapes of c. 1637-38, with their sites clearly identified, in the British Museum (Hind 1931, vol. 4, pp. 89-90, plate LIII).  This sheet may be slightly later, from the 1640s, given its low horizon, spare, simple composition, and understated tonal range.  It is particularly close to a drawing formerly in the Bruce Ingram collection, with two ships off a coastal village, in the same media and of similar size (161 x 298 mm), as well as a painting formerly in the A. Waller collection, Utrecht, a view of Hoorn, and other drawings, in the Teyler Museum, Haarlem, and the Fondation Custodia, Paris.

It is difficult to determine the city or town far in the background.  The city profile is similar in a drawing by Verwer inscribed “Vlissingen” in the British Museum; the artist does several other views of that city (Paul Oppé, London; Victoria and Albert Museum; P. de Boer, Amsterdam; and two in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam), but there are other candidates, such as Zierikzee.

Verwer’s beautiful evocations of the sea near the Dutch shore look forward to similar renderings by Jan van de Cappelle, Lieve Verschuier, and other artists of the second half of the 17th century.