Abraham Storck was one of the leading marine painters working in Amsterdam in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The most illustrious member of a large family of marine painters, Storck was born in Amsterdam in 1644 and lived and worked there all his life. Abraham trained and worked with his father and became a member of the Guild of St Luke in Amsterdam. In 1694 he married Neeltje Pieters van Meyservelt, a surgeon’s widow. His river and coastal scenes were greatly influenced by Ludolf Bakhuysen in the pictorial treatment of sky and water, as, for example, in the Shipping Scene (Dublin, National Gallery) and the Roads of Enkhuizen (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, 1521). Abraham also absorbed influences from other well-known Amsterdam marine painters, notably Willem van de Velde the Younger and Jan Abrahamsz. Beerstraten. The Beerstraten and Storck families were close friends and distantly related by marriage. In his paintings of sea battles Abraham emulated Jan Beerstraten’s somewhat crowded and agitated compositions.
In this attractive painting, Storck has taken a view from the south side of the river the Nieuwe Maas (at that time probably known as De Merwe river), looking in a north-westerly direction towards the city of Rotterdam. It seems tob e set somewhere at midday with sunlight coming from the left, as does the stiff breeze. A variety of craft, both small and large, fills the busy channel of water. In the left foreground, a Dutch East Indiaman can be seen with a rowing boat with several people approaching.
In the foreground are several smaller sailing vessels. Another large square-sterned ship, an English East Indiaman carrying the flag Ensign of the Red Squadron, can be seen in the centre firing it’s portside canons with another Dutch East Indiaman in the distance, while other small river and coastal sailing craft appear throughout. The artist has signed his name on the Dutch flag in the left foreground.
Storck’s eighteenth-century biographer Arnold Houbraken characterised him as a painter of ‘tempestuous and tranquil seascapes, ships and moles and crowds of figures, as well as barges and other craft crammed with soldiers and sailors and chests and bedding’, a description that gives a good idea of the broad repertory of maritime themes that he embraced. Early in his career Storck depicted naval battles and beach scenes, before developing a speciality in painting views of Amsterdam harbour, recreational sailing activities on the Amstel and Vecht rivers and mock battles, such as the one staged on the River Ij in honour of Czar Peter the Great in 1697. Later, he turned to painting views of Mediterranean seaports which are largely imaginary.
– private collection, United Kingdom;
– with Douwes Fine Art, London 1996.
– private collection, The Netherlands
– Herbert Palmer Gallery, Los Angeles, 1995;
– Gebr. Douwes Fine Art,Jubilee-Exhibition, Amsterdam November 1995, cat.no.42.