A North Sea Breeze on the Dutch Coast

Inspired by Dutch 17th-century marine painters, the artist was very interested in creating scenes of Holland and Dutch shore life. He gave this work the secondary title, 'Scheveling fishermen hauling the 'pinck' out of the surf'. In it he has included Scheveningen church tower in reference to the earlier masters, who often included it as a landmark. Scheveningen, on the northern tip of the Hague on the North Sea coast, has a wide beach very suitable for operating fishing pinks.

The man in the foreground to the left carries the anchor ashore over his right shoulder and holds the shore-line attached to the boat in his left hand. The Dutch vessel which dominates the picture is in port-quarter view and the artist has created the impression of wind through the surf and flapping sails. A pink was a small but substantial Dutch fishing vessel rigged with a square mainsail and sometimes with a square foresail on a small mast in the eyes of the boat. They were broad and flat-bottomed to assist stability and beaching and a substantial fleet of them were associated with Scheveningen. One man in the water holds the rope controlling the boat as he prepares to haul it ashore. There are eight men in the boat, which is pitched at an acute angle, and they lower the sails and are busy with its landing, with two other figures in the surf. The artist has invested this commonplace fishing scene with the drama of human struggle against the elements. The rigging and other gear is carefully observed.

The artist made his basic studies in the open air and on his visit to Holland in 1855, the year of this painting, he recorded in his diary for October that the sea was very rough and that he 'pottered about the strand, [and] got some sketches'. The artist was trained by his father, the engraver George Cooke, and showed outstanding talent as a draughtsman. He helped Clarkson Stanfield with some of his commissions, took lessons in oil painting from James Stark in 1834 and assisted with the arrangement of exhibits for the Great Exhibition of 1851. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1835-79, and was made ARA in 1851 and RA in 1863. Some of his sketchbooks are in the National Maritime Museum, London.

Object Details

ID: BHC1246
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Cooke, Edward William
Date made: 1855
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 1066 x 1676 mm; Frame: 1260 x 1885 mm

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