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“Avondgebed; Maleidische tripang visschers onder de hoge kust van Celebes” (Evening prayers by Malay fishermen under the high coast of Celebes)

Signed and dated 1863 lower right

Oil on canvas, 67 x 107 cm

J.E. van Heemskerck van Beest was of aristocratic descend and choose for a carreer in the navy. Starting as navel cadet in 1842 he rose to be sublieutenant and in 1849 took part in an expedition against Bali in the East Indies. In 1853 he was serving as first officer in the Dutch West Indies but in that same year he decided to become an artist and settled in the Netherlands. He married Geertruida Beredina de Feijfer (1829-1901) and together they had six children. Besides painting he also ran a farm between 1876 and 1885. While he was a navel officer he had made many sketches he later worked into finished paintings.
Only after he was back in Holland he followed painting lessons from the animal-painter Dirk van Lokhorst (1818-1893) in Utrecht. Van Heemskerck van Beest had several exhibitions of his work, all with East- or West-Indian subjects but he complained that little of his work was ever sold. In the collection of the “Scheepvaart Museum” in Amsterdam there are several beautiful watercolours and drawings by his hand, made while he was in Indonesia, but most of his work presumably still remains in his family.

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