Ships in a Stormy Sea Off a Coast by Ludolf Backhuysen provides a powerful and chilling reminder of how vulnerable ships are to nature’s fury. Seastorm paintings, known as stormpjes, were popular with the Dutch public of the seventeenth century. The Dutch, who were dependent on overseas trade and who waged a constant battle against the sea along their coast, left vivid descriptions of many such violent storms in their historical records. Some scholars have suggested that this painting portrays an actual event, the loss of the Dutch men-of-war Ridderschap and Hollandia in a hurricane in the Strait of Gibraltar, 1-3 March 1694. Whether a real or imagined storm at sea, this arresting image fills a major gap in the Museum’s outstanding collection of northern European paintings.
Tags: weather, nor’easter.
Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest) and Arthur Leroy and Lila Fisher Caldwell, by exchange