The 'Santa Maria' at Anchor

The galleon 'Santa Maria' was the flagship of Christopher Colombus, and is shown here at anchor in August 1492. The ship stands against the early morning light, and there is close detailed observation of the rigging, in which sailors have been portrayed, preparing to set sail. Together with the 'Niña' and the 'Pinta', the 'Santa Maria' was one of three ships that left Spain in 1492 on Columbus's first voyage to the Americas. In contrast to the two speedy caravels, the 'Santa Maria' was a larger merchantman, 77 feet long, and carried about 45 crewmen.

Van Eertvelt is regarded as the first Flemish marine painter. After his tour of Italy he favoured views of southern harbours, with calm seas painted in soft tones. This portrait of the 'Santa Maria' combines his new awareness of Mediterranean landscapes with an imaginary interpretation of an historical event. The galleon wears a striped red and gold ensign, the traditional Spanish colours. The similar flag at the fore has the addition of a religious figure, which is almost certainly the Virgin Mary.

Object Details

ID: BHC0753
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Eertvelt, Andries van
Vessels: Santa Maria; Niña Pinta
Date made: circa 1628
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Palmer Collection. Acquired with the assistance of H.M. Treasury, the Caird Fund, the Art Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Society for Nautical Research Macpherson Fund.
Measurements: Painting: 800 x 660 mm; Frame: 1010 mm x 888 mm x 102 mm

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