An unrigged fishing boat, with the leeboard visible, lies in starboard-bow view on a mudflat, with one man still aboard. Three other men are variously occupied close by, the man on the far left stooping to gather mussels to place in his basket. In the central foreground a man wearing a red cap and gloves holds a shallow basket full of fish in his right hand and tows a plank behind him with his left. He is heading towards the boat. The third man stands next to the boat, lifting a full basket of shell-fish, while his spade stands in the mud next to him. In the shallow water in the foreground to the right, a man in a red hat sits in a shallop, rowing two other men towards the mudflat. On the far left of the picture a sailing vessel and a larger ship can be seen in the background, and the stillness of the water emphasises the calm of the scene.
Porcellis was a Flemish artist, regarded as the greatest marine painter of his day. Initially taught in Rotterdam by H. C. Vroom, whose daughter he married, he was a pioneer of the Dutch realist school and used an innovative choice of colours. This moved away from the more colourful Flemish palette to a subdued, almost monochromatic range reportedly inspired by the grey skies of Holland. He moved to Antwerp and became Master of the Guild in 1617. From here he moved to Amsterdam and then to Haarlem, finally settling near Leiden. The painting is signed and dated 'IP 1622' on the plank, lower left.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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