Overview

This atmospheric painting depicts Hoorn, an important port city on the Zuiderzee, north of Amsterdam. A bank of clouds stretches across the late-afternoon sky, with only the rippling water and a gliding sailboat suggesting the gentle breeze overhead. From the low and distant vantage point, Hoorn’s city profile is a mere slither of built-up land that separates the expanses of water and sky. The only activity of note in this serene image occurs on the deck of the large merchant ship at the left, where a group of sailors using a block-and-tackle system appear to be raising or lowering cargo that presumably has been brought, or will be taken, by the smaller boat moored alongside. Just behind the stern of the East Indiaman, the large ship flying the Dutch flag in the center of the painting, we discern the Hoofdtoren, the sturdy defensive tower at the hoofd (entrance) of the inner harbor, as well as the masts of moored ships.

De Verwer’s luminous depiction of Hoorn reflects stylistic transformations that were occurring in Dutch marine painting during the 1640s, much of it owing to the influence of Simon de Vlieger (1600/1601–1653). Yet the distinctive compositional and draftsmanly qualities of View of Hoorn echo the tonal character of the remarkable, spare pen-and-wash drawings he made of port cities along the coasts of France and the Netherlands in the 1630s and 1640s. Indeed, stylistic comparisons with these drawings provide a fundamental basis for the attribution of this unsigned painting to De Verwer.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Mr. and Mrs. Arnoud Waller, Lunteren; by descent in their family; (Johnny van Haeften, London); sold May 2008 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1964
Zee- Rivier- en Oevergezichten: Nederlandse schilderijen uit de zeventiende eeuw, Dordrechts Museum, 1964, no. 1, fig. 92, as Dutch 17th Century.
2008
Pride of Place: Dutch Cityscapes of the Golden Age, Royal Picture House Mauritshuis, The Hague; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2008-2009, no. 46, repro.

Bibliography

1964
Bol, Laurens J. Zee- rivier- en oevergezichten: Nederlandse schilderijen uit de zeventiende eeuw. Exh. cat. Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, 1964: no. 1, as Dutch School, 17th century.
1973
Bol, Laurens J. Die holländische Marinemalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts. Braunschweig, 1973: 88, fig. 87.
2008
Suchtelen, Ariane van, and Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. Pride of Place: Dutch cityscapes of the Golden Age. Exh. cat. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague; National Gallery of Art, Washington. Zwolle, 2008: 190-191, 241, no. 46, repro.
2008
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. "Abraham de Verwer, View of Hoorn." National Gallery of Art Bulletin, no. 39 (Fall 2008): 22-23, repro.
2009
Bruyn Kops, Henriette de. Pride of Place: Dutch Cityscapes of the Golden Age. Exhibition brochure. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2009: 7-8.
2009
Wilkin, Karen. "Haarlem Renaissance." The New Criterion 27, no. 6 (February 2009): 48.

Conservation Notes

The painting was executed on an oak panel,[1] which is composed of two horizontally grained boards. On the back of the panel the edges are shallowly beveled. The ground is a very thin, white or off-white layer that does not fully hide the wood grain. The paint is also very thin, especially in the darks. There is no impasto but brushmarks are visible in the areas of thicker paint, such as the sky and water. It appears as though the artist may have left a reserve for the thickest part of the cityscape and the two large boats on the left when he painted the sky and water.

The panel has a slight horizontal convex warp and several horizontal splits stemming from the right edge. There are also small horizontal cracks in the paint that do not form a complete crackle pattern. These are most prominent in the sky. Examination with ultraviolet light revealed delicate inpainting in the sky, presumably because the paint became more translucent with time, allowing the prominent wood grain to become visible. Damage caused by the frame rabbet has been inpainted along the top, left, and right edges. The varnish remains clear and glossy. The painting has not been treated since its acquisition.

 

[1] The characterization of the wood is based on visual examination only.

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