Reinier Nooms, called “Zeeman” (1623/4-1667)


View of the Amsterdam Harbour with the West-Indian Warehouse and the Pepper Wharf on the Rapenburg Island, circa 1654

Signed R. Zeeman on the flag lower centre

Oil on canvas, 37.3 x 51.2 cm

Provenance:
- Anonymous sale, Van Eyck Leiden, 1 June 1765, lot 122, as een dito [Admiraliteitswerf te Amsterdam] met zynde een Gezigt van het Y, 15 x 19.5 duim [39.2 x 50.2 cm] (sold together with lot 121 for fl. 33,- to Bach)
- Acquired before 1920 by Jan Hendrik Cornelis Salberg (1877-1942), Hilversum, bequeathed to his wife Mrs. S.J.M. Salberg-Feijen (1896-1988), thence by descent

 

The present picture is the only surviving 17th-century painting in which the West-Indian Warehouse is depicted where the earliest government of New Amsterdam/New York was based and where Johan Maurits was sent off to the New World. It offers a view of the island Rapenburg, from left to right first the old WIC warehouse, then the Pepper Wharf with two careened ships. Most prominently visible is the West-Indian Warehouse of 1642, where the Lords XIX had their administrative centre and from where they ruled the new colony New-Amsterdam. Twice a week, applicants were able to register here for settlement in Manhattan, claiming grants and free land. The interest, however, remained small. The Montelbaanstoren sticks out from behind the warehouse, while the flute ship ‘De Liefde’ (Love) is moored in front of it, which also appears in an etching by the artist.

Nooms was the sole marine artist in the inventory of the famed Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. The painter signed his work simply with the word ‘Zeeman’ (Sailor) and it was in this function that he accompanied De Ruyter on his journey to the Mediterranean, which took place from 1661 to 1663. Little is known his life, other than that he was a maritime painter, best known for his drawings and etchings of all Dutch 17th century ship-types and his reliable and down-to-earth representation of the maritime practice (for a painting of Dutch ships off a Mediterranean coast see: Uit Verre Streken, March 2018, no. 3). Presumably, he started painting and drawing in his later years, after 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.
 

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