Reinier Nooms called ‘Zeeman’ (c. 1623-1667)


‘VOC three-masters at anchor in front of a Fortress, possibly Surat, India’


Signed R. Zeeman lower right

With a label on the stretcher reading: Nooms Reinier, gezegd Zeeman, geb. Amsterdam 1623, gest. 1667
According to an inscription at the reverse of the frame, the view should be of Cochin in India

Oil on canvas, 51 x 56 cm


Little is known about the short life of Reinier Nooms, called Zeeman (sailor). He was a maritime painter, mainly known for his highly detailed etchings of ships. Presumably, he started painting and drawing in his later years after a life as a sailor. How he acquired his skills as an artist is not known, but his knowledge of ships is evident from his work. He travelled widely, visiting Paris, Venice, Berlin and the North African coast but is not known ever to have been in the Far East. He painted, aboard the ship of Michiel de Ruyter, several scenes of Dutch-English sea battles, Mediterranian ports and coastal views of North Africa, probably from sketches he himself made in situ. Which coast is depicted here is not known. If it is Cochin, then Zeeman did it after a print or sketch by somebody else because he did not see Cochin himself, and if it is a Dutch colonial fortress, one might expect it to fly the Dutch flag. However, the domed tower to the left strongly resembles that of the tombs in the Dutch cemetery in Surat, which suggests the city in the background with mountains and lush forests is Dutch Suratte.