Jacob Adriaensz. Bellevois
Galleons and coasters on a rough sea off Dordrecht, around 1650
Oil on wood / 90.8 x 153.5 cm
Signed in mid-left of picture (stern flag of the warship on the left): J bellevois
Inv. no. D1306/ Dr. Clemens Sels Collection
The painting by the renowned marine painter Adam Willaerts is part of a tradition that had emancipated itself from the sea battle depictions of earlier history paintings. The shipwreck thematizes the grandeur of mighty nature while pointing to the puniness of human existence. The compositionally powerful handling of the light and the alternation of light and dark zones of clouds emphasize the drama of the narrative. The cross on the high cliff in the right-hand third of the picture suggests that this may also be an expression of Christian mystic light like that found in the works of Rembrandt.
The painting by another successful maritime painter, Jacob Adriaensz Bellevois, shows two Dutch galleons with battle flags, smaller coastal vessels and a dinghy with officers on the river delta near Dordrecht. The artist skillfully joins the high, light sky, the moving sea and the ships rolling in the swell in an atmospherically dense sea piece.