National Gallery of Art Custom Prints

Hendrick Cornelis Vroom

A Fleet at Sea, 1614

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Rothko is renowned for his towering abstract paintings on canvas, but few people know that he also created nearly 1,000 paintings on paper over the course of his career.
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About the Artwork

A Fleet at Sea (c. 1614) is a major painting by the Haarlem artist Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom (d. 1640). The first Dutch painter to specialize in seascapes and detailed portraits of specific ships, Vroom paved the way for later 17th-century marine painters with his lively, colorful, and harmonious compositions. A Fleet at Sea was featured in the 2018 exhibition Water, Wind, and Waves: Marine Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. The National Gallery is grateful to Albert Beveridge and his late wife, Madzy, for their generous gift that has brought this important painting into the nation’s collection.

A Fleet at Sea portrays a historic event that took place many years before Vroom painted its likeness. A stiff breeze propels the billowing sails of a Dutch fluyt ship from the mouth of the Maas River onto the choppy waves of the North Sea. On the right side of the painting, the skyline of Den Briel, with its squat church tower, identifies the exact location of the scene. Vroom has also included several details that suggest that the heavily armed cargo ship in the foreground may be the Roode Leeuw (Red Lion), which left its home port of Rotterdam in 1597 for a well-documented voyage to the distant shores of South America and the Caribbean. The vessel’s figurehead is a bright red lion, and the flag of the province Holland (also with a red lion) appears atop the main mast. The inclusion of the municipal arms of Rotterdam on the red, white, and blue Dutch flag on the stern pole may be a nod to the Roode Leeuw’s home port. Research continues into a possible alternative identification of the ship as the Rotterdam-based Leeuwinne (Lioness), which rammed and destroyed Spanish galleys in 1602, an event that Vroom depicted in a 1617 painting.

Vroom’s extensive output in paintings and prints had a direct impact on the enormous popularity of marine painting in the Netherlands throughout the 17th century. His own sea voyages during the 1580s gave him a profound understanding of the architecture and rigging of ships, and of their interaction with wind and water in a wide range of conditions. Vroom’s career coincided with the dawn of Dutch global commercial expansion, and he received numerous lucrative commissions from shipowners, captains, and shareholders of the Dutch East and West India Companies.

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National Gallery of Art Custom Prints is your exclusive source for custom reproductions authorized and available for purchase directly from the National Gallery of Art. All items that are offered are produced using gallery-quality materials and the color is managed in a manner that produces a reproduction as true to the original as modern technology will allow.
Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. In addition, new works are continually added to the offering, so come back often to see our new releases.
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Circle Members will receive a 20% discount for all Custom Prints orders processed through our kiosk or website. During the checkout process, enter the coupon code you received from the membership office and your discount will be applied.