Emden, 8 December 1630 – Amsterdam, 6/7 November 1708, buried 12 November in the Westerkerk1
Dutch painter, calligrapher, draughtsman and printmaker
Ludolf Bakhuizen painted seascapes, often with storms, identifiable ships and events at sea, also both seascapes and landscapes with Biblical scenes, and portraits . Bakhuizen was trained as a clerk in Emden in East Frisia (now Germany) before moving to Amsterdam c. 1650. There he worked as a calligrapher and draughtsman, but according to his near contemporary and first biographer Arnold Houbraken (1660–1719) he also learned oil painting from the landscape painters Hendrick Jacobsz. Dubbels (1621–1707) and Allaert van Everdingen (1621–75). His early drawings on canvas, panel or parchment are mainly of marine scenes and are inspired by the pen drawings of the 1650s by Willem van de Velde I (c. 1611–93). Bakhuizen continued to produce them until the 1660s.
Bakhuizen became famous as a marine painter in the 1660s. The simple compositions and silvery tonalities of his earliest known paintings reflect the work of Dubbels and Van Everdingen, the artists Houbraken mentioned as his teachers. Despite producing numerous marine paintings and individual portraits and providing marine backgrounds for portraits by Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613–70), Bakhuizen nevertheless continued to refer to himself as a draughtsman throughout the 1650s, and he did not join the Amsterdam painters’ guild until 1663.
It was in the 1660s that Bakhuizen’s fame as a marine painter became established. In 1665 he received a prestigious commission from the burgomasters of Amsterdam to paint a View of Amsterdam and the IJ (now in the Louvre) , as a gift for Hugues de Lionne (1611–1671), Foreign Minister of Louis XIV (1638–1715).2 The departure of both Willem van de Veldes for England in 1672 left Bakhuizen as the leading marine painter in the Netherlands.3 Unlike theirs, Bakhuizen’s seascapes show his interest in the weather, especially in storms, and in figures, and less concern for rendering technical details of ships. According to Houbraken he was visited by princes including Frederick I of Prussia (1657–1713), Cosimo III de’ Medici (1642–1723) and Peter the Great of Russia (1672–1725). The tsar is said to have taken drawing lessons from him.
In 1699 Bakhuizen co-founded a kunstkamer (art room) in Amsterdam Town Hall, of which he became one of the first directors. This room displayed not only contemporary paintings for sale but also such things as terracotta models by Artus Quellinus I (1609–68) for the sculptural decoration of the Town Hall, to serve as models for artists. The room was also used as a kind of drawing academy. Bakhuizen did not make his first etchings until 1701, for the series D’Y Stroom en Zeegezichten (Views of the River IJ and the Sea), which glorifies Amsterdam – as did many of his works.4 His career stretched over half a century, and his last known work is dated 1707.
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) seems to have been inspired by Bakhuizen’s ‘pre-romantic’ paintings, of which some were present and appreciated in Great Britain at the beginning of the 19th century: John Smith in the sixth volume of his œuvre catalogues of Dutch and Flemish painters (1835) discusses 155 of Bakhuizen’s works.
Self-Portrait of Ludolf Bakhuizen (1630-1708), dated 169(?)
canvas, oil paint 46 x 37,5 cm
lower left : LBAKH Ft 169(3)
Emden (Germany), Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek
The 'Spiegel' with in the background the silhouette of Amsterdam, 1666
canvas, oil paint 127 x 220 cm
lower left : AN.DE SPIEGEL 1668 LUDOLFF BACKHUYSEN
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./cat.nr. 988
Broos 1996a (Ludolf Bakhuizen); De Beer 2002; De Beer, Goossens & Van de Roemer 2004; Scheele & Kanzenbach 2008; Saur, vi, 1992, pp. 175–6 (G. de Beer; Ludolf Backhuysen); Van der Veen 2019a; Ecartico, no. 690: (Nov. 5, 2019; Ludolf Backhuyzen); Van der Veen 2019a, iii, pp. 907–11 (Ludolf Backhuysen); RKDartists&, no. 3414: (Nov. 20, 2019; Ludolf Bakhuizen).
DPG327 – Boats in an Upcoming Storm with the Church of Zandvoort
1696; canvas, 63 x 79 cm
Signed on the side of the boat, lower left: L.BAKHUZYN, and dated on floating plank, bottom left: 1696
?Desenfans 1785–1807;5 or ?Mr. Bryan’s collection;6 Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 31, no. 327 (‘Unhung / no. 58, Boats & figures, rough Sea – C[anvas]. Backhuysen’; 3' x 3'7").
Cat. 1817, p. 7, no. 90 (‘SECOND ROOM – South Side; A Sea-Storm; Backhuysen’); Haydon 1817, p. 377, no. 90;7 Cat. 1820, p. 7, no. 90; Hazlitt 1824, p. 33, no. 90;8 Cat. 1830, p. 6, no. 75; Jameson 1842, ii, p. 454, no. 75; Hazlitt 1843, p. 26, no. 75;9 Ruskin 1843, i, pt ii, sec. iii, ch. iii (Of Truth of Clouds), p. 221;10 Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 75;11 Sparkes 1876, p. 6, no. 75; Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 5, no. 75; Havard & Sparkes 1885, p. 256, no. 75 (‘a moderate example’); Richter & Sparkes 1892 & 1905, p. 91, no. 327; Cook 1914, pp. 201–2, no. 327; HdG, vii, 1918, p. 297, no. 235 (Engl. edn 1923, p. 270, no. 235); Cook 1926, pp. 201–2; Cat. 1953, p. 9; Paintings 1972, pp. 10a, ; Bernt 1948, i, n.p., no. 36; not in Bernt 1970; Wright 1978, p. 58; Murray 1980a, p. 25; Murray 1980b, p. 7; Nannen 1985, p. 34; Moore 1988, p. 53, fig. 40; Beresford 1998, p. 32; De Beer 2002, pp. 143–4 (fig. 175), no. 89; Dejardin 2009b, pp. 60–61; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 22–3; RKD, no. 33972: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/33972 (Nov. 20, 2019); De Beer in preparation, no. 89.
London/Washington/Los Angeles 1985–6, pp. 40–41, no. 1 (D. Cordingly); Tokyo/Shizuoka/Osaka/Yokohama 1986–7, pp. 50–51 (in Japanese; D. Cordingly); Warsaw 1992, pp. 54–5, no. 1 (D. Cordingly); Houston/Louisville 1999–2000, pp. 208–9, no. 76 (D. Shawe-Taylor).
Fine plain-weave linen. Generally in very good condition with some repaired minor paint losses. The surface has a fine craquelure all over. Glue paste lined. None of the canvas’s original tacking edges remain. Previous recorded treatment: 1911, lined and cleaned, Holder; 1953, cleaned, Dr Hell; 1984, local flaking secured, surface cleaned and varnished, adjusted old retouchings, National Maritime Museum, Stuart Sanderson; 2000, frame treated for woodworm.
1) Ludolf Bakhuizen, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, signed and dated L.BAKH.1695, canvas, 58.3 x 72.5 cm. Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1994.117 .12
2) Copy of DPG327: 54.3 x 69.3 cm, signed. Christie’s, Monte Carlo, 20 June 1992, lot 51 .13
3) Joseph Mallord William Turner, Calais Pier, with French Poissards preparing for Sea: an English Packet Boat arriving, 1803, canvas, 172 x 240 cm. NG, London, NG472 .14
4a) Jan van de Velde II, View of the Dunes with the Church of Zandvoort from the north-east, 1627, etching, 83 x 161 mm (plate). RPK, RM, Amsterdam, RP-P-1898-A-20532 .15
4b) Claes Jansz. Visscher, Sandtvoort, c. 1612, etching, 103 x 158 mm. RPK, RM, Amsterdam, RP-P-1879-A-3464.16
The picture displays Bakhuizen’s characteristic features, which emerged after 1665. While he maintains his usual formula of placing his subject in a sliver of brilliant sunshine surrounded by a dark sea, his compositions after that date are more daring, his lighting more dramatic. The scene shows a sailing craft, a wijdschip (wide ship), packed with passengers.17 The wind has blown it in the direction of a krib (groin), a low wall or sturdy timber barrier built out into the sea from a beach to check erosion and drifting. Three small kaags (ketches or boats designed to carry cargo on inland waterways) approach the coast as well.18 On the shore men pull on a rope to drag the ship’s stern about. The church in the background on the right has a long nave with a tall choir and a tall, slender tower, features most like those of the Reformed church in Zandvoort on the west coast of the Dutch provinces (Related works, nos 4a, 4b; .19 It has not been possible to identify the other church in the far distance on the left of the picture, or to ascertain whether DPG327 depicts an existing landscape or, more likely, a scene composed of different elements, not necessarily on one location.20 The lively figures are, as always, by the master himself. One year earlier, in 1695, Bakhuizen had painted a Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, now in Indianapolis (Related works, no. 1) . It shows that with very small changes a sea piece can become a history painting. It also shows by contrast that the ships in DPG327 are not in any real danger, contrary to what has been said several times.
Turner’s Calais Pier, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 (Related works, no. 3) , seems to be inspired in atmosphere, style and content by DPG327, or a similar painting by Bakhuizen. The fact that Ruskin, always defending Turner, chose DPG327 to formulate his criticism of Dutch painters in the first edition of his Modern Painters (1843) might indicate that he also saw the relationship between Bakhuizen and Turner.21
Boats in an upcoming storm with the church of Zandvoort, dated 1696
canvas, oil paint 63,5 x 79,5 cm
lower left : L.BAKHUZYN
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG327
Christ stilling the storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1695 (dated)
canvas, oil paint 58,3 x 72,5 cm
Indianapolis (Indiana), Indianapolis Museum of Art, inv./cat.nr. 1994.117
after Ludolf Bakhuizen
Boats in an upcoming storm with the church of Zandvoort, c. 1696
canvas, oil paint 54,3 x 69,3 cm
Christie's (Monaco) 1992-06-20, nr. 51
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Calais Pier, with French Poissards preparing for Sea: an English Packet Boat arriving, 1803
canvas, oil paint 172 x 240 cm
London, National Gallery (London), inv./cat.nr. NG472
Jan van de Velde (II)
View of the dunes with the church of Zandvoort from the north-east, 1627 dated
paper, etching 83 x 161 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-1898-A-20532
1 Van der Veen 2019a argues that Bakhuizen must have been born on 8 Dec. 1630; for the date of his death he gives 6/7 Nov. 1708.
2 The picture was meant to complement an existing collection of depictions of the main European cities; Bakhuizen received 1,275 guilders for it in 1666 (with a gold ducat for his wife): Van der Veen 2019a, p. 910.
4 For the series D’Y Stroom en Zeegezichten see Hollstein 1949, pp. 54–58.
5 In the sales of Desenfans’ collection in London there seem to have been at least two pictures by Bakhuizen. One called A brisk gale appears several times (I, II, III), as does another called A sea piece (IV, V, VI); either – or perhaps both, if the titles in fact refer to the same picture – might be DPG327. The Sea View (VIII) could also be DPG327. A Storm, with a Shipwreck (VII) is definitely not, as there is no shipwreck visible in the Dulwich picture; and similarly the absence of ‘a Dutch man of war’ rules out A brisk gale or A sea view (IX).
6 Denning 1859, no. 75, says: ‘Probably in Mr. Bryan’s Collection’. The GPID (27 July 2011) gives eight paintings by Bakhuizen from the sales of Mr Bryan before 1811 (the date of Bourgeois’ death). Of these one is on panel. For the others no measurements or support are given. Denning had probably read Buchanan 1824, i, where Mr Bryan’s auction on 17 May 1798 (Lugt 5764) is described. It included three Bakhuizens: p. 275 (first day’s sale), ‘7. Backhuysen. – A fresh Breeze. Very fine’; p. 276, ‘14. Backhuysen. – A Storm. This celebrated painter particularly excelled in these subjects: this is one of his most capital pictures; 15. Ditto. – A brisk Gale – its companion. Equally fine’. It is possible that DPG327 is no. 14, but what has happened to its companion?
7 ‘Ludolf H. Backhuysen. A Sea Piece. A clever specimen of the master, and not so leaden in its colouring as most of his works.’
8 ‘In the Second Room, No. 90, a Sea Storm, by Backhuysen, and No. 93, A Calm, by W. Vandervelde, are equally excellent, the one for its gloomy turbulence, and the other for its glassy smoothness.’
9 ‘In the Second Room, No. 75, a Sea Storm, by Backhuysen, and No. 92, A Calm, by W. Vandervelde, are equally excellent, the one for its gloomy turbulence, and the other for its glassy smoothness.’
10 §19. ‘Compared with the clouds of Backhuysen. It is instructive to compare with this such a sky as that of Backhuysen, No. 75, Dulwich Gallery [DPG327], where we have perfectly spherical clusters of grape-like, smooth, opaque bodies, which are evidently the results of the artist’s imaginative powers, strained to their highest pitch in his study, perhaps, however, modified and rendered more classical and ideal by his feeling of the beautiful in the human form, at least in that part of it which is in Dutchmen most peculiarly developed. There are few pictures which are so evidently in-door work as this, so completely in every part bearing witness to the habit of the artist of shutting his eyes and soul to every impression from without, and repeating for ever and ever without a sensation of imperfection, a hope or desire of improvement, or a single thought of truth or nature, the same childish, contemptible, and impossible conception. It is a valuable piece of work, as teaching us the abasement into which the human mind may fall when it trusts to its own strength, and delights in its own imagination.’ According to Cook & Wedderburn (1903, iii, p. 385 (note)) this passage appeared in the 1843 version but not in the subsequent editions.
11 Sometimes Denning gives information on the signatures. In this case, Denning 1858, no. 75: ‘This a true and excellent picture signed “L. Backhuysen” [sic] in his usual manner’, and Denning 1859, no. 75: ‘This is a genuine and excellent picture signed by the Artist’s own hand.’
12 RKDimages 35196 (May 20, 2017); De Beer 2002, p. 143, no. 96 (fig. 172). Bakhuizen’s Sea of Galilee was possibly inspired by Rembrandt’s painting of the same subject, dated 1633, canvas, 160 x 120 cm, in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, P21S24 (stolen in 1990; Corpus A 68, Bruyn, ii, 1986, pp. 302–10). Bakhuizen could have seen it in the collection of Jacob Jacobsz. Hinloopen in Amsterdam (ibid., p. 309).
14 RKDimages 287907 (Jan. 30, 2018); see also https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/joseph-mallord-william-turner-calais-pier (Nov. 4, 2019); Egerton 1998, pp. 260–65, where only a Jacob van Ruisdael in the Louvre is mentioned as a possible inspiration (p. 264).
15 RKDimages 87900 (Jan. 30, 2018); book illustration in M. Campanus, J. J. Colevelt, A. P. Craen and J. Robbertzen, Amsterdamsche Pegasus, waer in (uyt lust) byeen vergadert zijn veel minnelycke liedekens (Amsterdam: Cornelis Willemsz Blaeulaken, 1627): see http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.333959 (Nov. 4, 2019); Giepmans 2004, p. 11, fig. 6, and description of Zandvoort church on pp. 42–3.
16 No. 3 of the series of 12 Gezichten bij Haarlem. See http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.190897 (May 20, 2017); Leeflang 1998, p. 70 (fig. 16). Also in BM, London: 1987,1003.13: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1987-1003-13 (Sept. 24, 2020).
17 For wijdschip see Akveld 1996, p. 33, and Robinson 1990, ii, p. 1134.
18 For kaag see Akveld 1996, p. 26, and Robinson 1990, ii, p. 1134.
19 The medieval church of Zandvoort, originally dedicated to SS. Agatha and Adrian, was remodelled for Reformed worship in 1618, and demolished in 1848: Van der Mije 1957, p. 5. See also above, note 15. However Laurens Schoemaker wrote: ‘The church is difficult to identify and could also be the church of Scheveningen’; email to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 6 Nov. 2015 (DPG327 file). Indeed that church also has a tall choir: see for instance RKDimages 237396 or RKDimages 426576 (both Sept. 24, 2020). What can be found in RKD images under the 'church of Scheveningen' or the 'church of Zandvoort' in the 17th century, however, shows such different spires that it seems almost impossible to determine which church Bakhuizen may have had in mind. That is why I prefer to keep to the original identification as Zandvoort made by the late Michiel Jonker.
20 Remmelt Daalder wrote of the setting: ‘I do not believe that it is Zandvoort: there you have a sandy beach, no timbering along the coast. Seems to me rather to be the Zuiderzee, perhaps the church of Enkhuizen in the distance? I also see a beurtschip (narrowship), I think and a number of fishing boats, one of which has a braided basket, a kind of net. In it you keep the fish caught alive.’ Email to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 28 March 2018 (DPG327 file), for which many thanks. Daalder clearly assumes that DPG327 is a depiction of an existing landscape, but Dutch 17th-century artists are known to have made landscape compositions where they inserted buildings as set pieces.
21 See note 10 above.