National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Maas at Dordrecht Aelbert Cuyp (artist)
Dutch, 1620 - 1691
The Maas at Dordrecht, c. 1650
oil on canvas
overall: 114.9 x 170.2 cm (45 1/4 x 67 in.) framed: 151.1 x 205.1 x 15.2 cm (59 1/2 x 80 3/4 x 6 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1940.2.1
On View
From the Tour: Dutch Still Lifes and Landscapes of the 1600s
Object 2 of 8

Holland's Maas river flows through France and Belgium, where it is known as the Meuse. In Aelbert Cuyp's radiant vista over the Maas' estuary at Dordrecht, crowds jam the docks, bugles and drums sound fanfares, and cannons fire salutes. Near the end of the Eighty Years' War, Dordrecht hosted a two-week festival in honor of 30,000 soldiers. On July 12, 1646, a huge fleet of merchant and navy ships set sail to return the men home from active duty.

This vast, sunny composition specifically accents one figure: the young man standing in the dinghy beside the large ship. The anchored ships at the left create a wedge-shaped mass that points toward him, as do some rigging lines. His head lies directly before the horizon, and his stark black outfit is silhouetted dramatically against the palest area of the picture, the morning mist over the far shore. Because he wears a sash with Dordrecht's city colors of red and white, he may be the festival's master of ceremonies and is probably the patron who commissioned Cuyp to document this historic event.

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