A Three-Masted Dutch Ship at Anchor
pen and brown ink, with black and grey wash
395 x 404 mm
Charles Duits, purchased by him in the 1920’s
By descent to his son Clifford Duits
By descent to his son Graham Duits
By descent to his widow, Mrs Duits
This wash and ink drawing depicts a Dutch frigate at anchor viewed from the broadside with sails furled and flags gently rippling. Dutch standards top the two rightmost masts and the jibboom furthest to the right. A billowing dark flag trails behind the quarterdeck to the left. A single row of gunports demarcates the vessel as a military frigate as opposed to a commercial luyt.
The drawing likely dates to the second half of the 17th century. The form and execution of the ship echoes many of the ship’s profiles sketched by the Van de Velde family, of which 700 are now housed at the Royal Museum in Greenwich. The frigate is also particularly close to the Dutch Men of War at the Metropolitan Museum. Although the usage of grey wash and brown ink is found in other Van de Velde compositions, such as Dutch Ships at Bay at the Metropolitan Museum, and in the drawings of contemporary artists such as Pieter Coopse (1640-1673), the combination is perhaps most typical of Ludolf Bakhuizen (1630–1708). The delineation of the ship’s rigging and features in brown ink, and the drawing’s low horizon in grey wash are characteristics often found in Bakhuizen’s marine oeuvre. The same combination can be seen in a similar example at the Metropolitan Museum, A Ship at Sea. This particular drawing was likely intended, as a study to be integrated subsequently into a larger composition. Although the same is possible for the present sheet, the impressive scale and detail, as well as the lack of connected full-scale work allows for the alternative possibility that it was intended as an independent work in its own right.
Other examples of Bakhuizen’s usage of grey wash and brown ink can be seen at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the Rijksmuseum, and at the Morgan Library. Although this is not definitive of an attribution it provides the most probable milieu within which the work was made.