Sunday, 19 November 2017

Galleries and Galliots

Today Catherine and I went up to Sydney in order to see and exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Entitle 'Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age : Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum', it's a collection of paintings from the main museum on Amsterdam, and illustrates the style of art influenced by the unique Dutch society of the 17th century. The centrepiece is a room devoted to Rembrandt, but this post is about the second room we encountered. This was the view as I came into it.

It covered the influence of Dutch overseas trade, specifically the Dutch East India Company, and it's naval power.

Needless to say I was like a kid in a sweetshop. Behind me is a picture of a Dutch warship in a storm; possibly a wreck off Gibraltar, although that is unclear.

There were about ten paintings in all, plus this - a model of a 1640s 44-gun warship, probably made for a guild or merchant company.

It's exquisite.

Did warships of the period really have all this carving and decoration? Repairs would have been fifty-percent art restoration.

Anyway, I know that some readers of this blog like ships, so I took a few pictures of bits of the paintings for both them and my own personal collection. This first set are from a couple of paintings of Dutch ships off Batavia. In the background you can see the port and castle of Batavia itself.

On the other side of the gallery was this; a painting of the Four Days Battle of 1666 by Willem van de Velde. Pure naval battle painting porn. Just look at the glorious detail!

A couple of ladies were looking at the picture and trying to puzzle out the flags. I couldn't help myself, and they ended up learning more about naval ensigns that I suspect they needed to know.

Anyway, if you want to see more, the exhibition runs until February 18th next year. The rest of it is almost as good as the pictures of ships, so it's well worth the trip.

(The title mentioned 'Galliots' I have no idea if there are any in the pictures.)


  1. I'd bet good money the shipwrights used all of those carvings to hike up the costs. And what were you going to do? Show up for battle in a boring ship?

    "Oh you dont want the poop deck gargoyles? Pieter Florisz has poop deck gargoyles. He ordered this specific style by name.. "

    1. That was my wife's view, that the model was the 'Deluxe, All-Features' version used by a salesman to sell the ships.

  2. I was uncertain about seeing this and you've certainly convinced me it is worth my time now mate. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'm trying to make the point of seeing more exhibitions like this, because I rather took it for granted that I could see art like this all of the time when I lived in the UK.

      Obviously there are paintings of things other than ships, and they were great as well.

      I did, and enjoyed, the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition that's on at the moment as well. Some amazing photography.

  3. Great details on the painting and very nice post, thanks!


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