(b. ca. 1584, Ghent, d. 1632, Zoeterwoude)

Shipwreck on a Beach

Oil on panel, 37 x 67 cm
Mauritshuis, The Hague

Bespoke large, historical portraits of great ships that trumpet the power of the new nation's navy continued during the course of the 17th century. However, Porcellis and his younger contemporaries painted cabinet-size pictures of anonymous boats under high skies in unidentifiable seas, rivers, and inland waters. Most of them were probably not commissioned but done for the open market.

Porcellis's shore scenes are equally remarkable. He painted the Shipwreck on a Beach only a few months before his death. Few later landscapes match the naturalism of its sombre mood broken by burst of sunlight indicating that the storm has broken and the spaciousness created by the extensive stretch of beach and huge breakers, low horizon, and huge dunes running obliquely into the far distance.