Ludolf Bakhuizen

Shipping in choppy waters

Ludolf Bakhuizen was born in Emden (now Germany) in 1630. In 1648 or 1649 Bakhuizen went to Amsterdam, entering into the service of the merchant Guillelmo Bartolotti II as his accountant and calligrapher. He probably did not begin painting until some time afterwards; his first known dated painting is dated 1658, and it was only in 1663, after spending a year in Hoorn, that he became a member of the guild of St Luke in Amsterdam. It was probably due to his qualities as a calligrapher that in time he began drawing on panel, probably inspired by the works of Willem van de Velde the Elder. He was first taught by Allaert van Everdingen – as is mentioned by Houbraken –  and afterwards by the marine painter Hendrick Dubbels. He spent the rest of his career and life in Amsterdam, where he got married four times.

Ludolf Bakhuizen quickly became internationally renowned for the quality of his marine paintings, which often featured rough seas. It was said that Bakhuizen frequently exposed himself on the sea in an open boat in order to study the effects of storms; in any case, he always tried to remain as close as possible to nature. As a result, his paintings and drawings were deemed to be very realistic, which probably accounts as well for their immense popularity at the time. He was visited in his studio by several very famous patrons of his time, such as Cosimo III de’ Medici and Peter the Great of Russia. In 1699 he opened a kunstkamer, or gallery, in Amsterdam, which held and showed works by contemporary masters, such as a group of terracottas by Artus Quellinus, and was connected to an art academy. Bakhuizen, together with Michiel van Musscher (a portrait painter), became one of its first directors. He died in 1708 in Amsterdam.

The present work, a vibrant and dynamic ink and wash study showing several ships in choppy waters, is typical for Bakhuizen’s oeuvre, and shows the quality of his draughtsmanship. It has been suggested by Dr. Gerlinde de Beer, author of the 2002 monograph on Bakhuizen, that this is a late work, to be dated in the 1690’s.

Artist: Ludolf Bakhuizen (Emden 1630 - 1708 Amsterdam)
Medium: pen and ink, brush and wash on laid paper
Dimensions: 118 x 155 mm