Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Maas at Dordrecht.

Aelbert Cuyp
The Maas at Dordrecht, c. 1650
Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art

The museum's guide explains:
Holland’s Maas river flows through France and
Belgium, where it is known as the Meuse. In
Aelbert Cuyp’s radiant vista over the Maas’ ocean
port at Dordrecht, crowds jam the docks, bugles
and drums sound fanfares, and cannons fire
salutes. Near the end of the Thirty Years’ War,
Dordrecht hosted a two-week festival in honor of
30,000 soldiers. On 12 July 1646, a huge fleet of
merchant and navy ships set sail to end the happy
furlough and return the men home.
This vast, sunny composition specifically
accents one figure: the young man standing in the
dinghy beside the large ship. The anchored ships
at the left create a wedge-shaped mass that points
toward him, as do some rigging lines. His head
lies directly before the horizon, and his stark
black outfit is silhouetted dramatically against the
palest area of the picture, the morning mist over
the far shore. Because he wears a sash with
Dordrecht’s city colors of red and white, he may
be the festival’s master of ceremonies and is probably
the patron who commissioned Cuyp to document
this historic event.
More here, including detail images and links to other Cuyp paintings. For a different view of seventeenth-century Dordrecht by Jan Van Goyen, see this.

Buy your own copy for $229 or at various prices depending on the size and color you desire. (Read about the Chinese art village of Dafen here and here.) Or get a poster for $19.97.

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