skip to content

Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 17:00
Sundays & Bank Holidays: 12:00 - 17:00

FREE ADMISSION

 

Jan Peeters (1624-78), A view of Alexandria in Egypt c.1665, pen, brown ink and grey wash, on paper. Bequeathed by Sir Bruce Ingram, 1963, PD.592-1963

Jan Peeters, active in Antwerp, was born into a family of sea painters. This included his two brothers Gillis (1612-53) and Bonaventura (1614-52), who is likely to have taught him, and his little-known sister Catharina (1615-76).
Sometime before 1665 Jan travelled to the coastal areas of North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria, also known as the Barbary Coast, where he studied a number of harbour cities, including this view of Alexandria. It shows El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque to the right and the Citadel of Qaitbay to the left. This drawing and ten others, including the following one, were engraved by Lucas Vorsterman (1595-1675) and printed by the Antwerp publisher Jacob Peeters (1637-95). The series is titled Divarse Viste delli Luoghie Contrade di Barbaria e il Stretto di Gibraltar.

 


Jan Peeters (1624-78), View of Zaffia in Barbary (Safi in Morocco) c.1665, pen, brown ink and grey wash, on paper. Bequeathed by Sir Bruce Ingram, 1963, PD.587-1963

This view of Zaffia, or Safi as it is now known, in Western Morocco is from a series of coastal and harbour views of exotic, faraway lands, which must have captivated seventeenth-century audiences. Not many artists travelled to such places, as the voyages were long and dangerous, although there were plenty of opportunities for artists to travel on the cargo ships of the Dutch East and West India Companies. In 1661-3 the well-known Admiral Michiel de Ruyter (1607-76) went on an expedition to the Barbary Coast to negotiate with the pirates who were plundering Dutch trade ships and enslaving their sailors.

 


Wigerus Vitringa (1657-1721), Dutch whalers in the Arctic, pen, ink and watercolour on paper. Bequeathed by Sir Bruce Ingram, 1963, PD.857-1963

Vitringa, a follower of Ludolf Backhuysen, spent most of his career in Leeuwarden in the northern province of Friesland. He is not known to have travelled to the Arctic: it is more likely that he learnt about the icy seas, whales and polar bears through prints and the written accounts of explorers.
From 1675 to 1690, the Dutch were leaders in the whale-fishing industry; it employed 14,000 seamen on 260 ships. Forced close to shore and then harpooned, the whale is being towed by men in small boats. Once on land the whale would be stripped for its oil, meat and blubber. The large ships, all boasting the Dutch flag, are probably fluyts. These efficient boats were designed by the Dutch around 1590 to carry large amounts of cargo.

 


Abraham Storck (1644-1708), A view of the Riva degli Schiavone in Venice c.1680-90, pen, dark and light brown ink, grey wash, on paper. Bequeathed by Sir Bruce Ingram, 1963, PD.731-1963

In 1661 the Dutch author Lambert van den Bos published a travel guide on Italy in which he described the city of Venice as ‘outstanding’ and a ‘great pleasure to behold’. Private collectors eagerly sought drawings and paintings of the city’s picturesque canals and iconic buildings; this highly detailed pen and wash drawing would have been intended for the open market.
A significant painter of seascapes, Storck was based mostly in Amsterdam and never travelled to Italy. Instead he studied the Italian views of the French printmaker Israël Silvestre (1621-91) and would freely combine a range of monuments and buildings to create imaginary scenes. This drawing with the Doge’s Palace, columns, campanile and dome of St Mark’s basilica is, however, mostly accurate.

 


Jacob van der Ulft (1627-89), An Italian harbour scene c.1670, pen, dark-brown ink and wash, on paper. Bequeathed by Sir Bruce Ingram, 1963, PD.751-1963

Dutch scenes of Italian harbours or Italiaense Zeehaven were often invented, intended to evoke the Mediterranean rather than record it precisely. While not much is known about Van der Ulft’s life and training, it is likely that he travelled from the Netherlands to Italy several times; his Italian drawings are dated from 1663 to 1674.
This wide, panoramic view, bathed in warm light, shows the seafarers loading and unloading their cargo. The classical columns on the left were likely to have been inspired by the ruins in the Roman Forum and help to create a picturesque view that recalls a distant past.

 


Attributed to Lodewijk Toeput (c.1550-1603/05), A harbour scene in a storm with disabled ships in the foregroundc.1595 brush, brown and blue wash, on paper. Bequeathed by Sir Bruce Ingram, 1963, PD.825-1963

Toeput was born in Antwerp but relocated to Italy around 1573. He travelled to Florence, Rome and Treviso and became known as Pozzoserrato. He had a significant impact on Flemish landscape painting around 1600, especially the work of Tobias Verhaecht (1561-1631), to whom this drawing was once attributed. The brown and blue washes evoke the choppy waves and stormy clouds, creating a watercolour that pre-empts the work of the British artist J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). The destroyed ships and burning buildings indicate that the city has been sacked and may depict the Greek mythological story of the Battle of Troy; the Trojan horse stands prominently on a bridge in the distance.

 

Ludolf Backhuysen ›