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Witte de With's Action with Dunkirkers off Nieuwpoort, 1640

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings, Maritime Art Greenwich
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: With, Witte Corneliszoon de

Object details:

Object ID BHC0271
Description During the Thirty Years War, Spanish naval power reached unprecedented levels. The ports and shipyards of Flanders, particularly Dunkirk, were the focus of maritime revival. The Flanders fleet which evolved in response to Dutch sea power became the most devastating and effective unit in Spain's defence establishment. In combination with its privateering auxiliaries, this élite striking force dominated the North Sea between 1625 and 1645, and also campaigned in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. The scene depicts a struggle between galleons with no smaller ships or frigates in view. It is an interpretation of a Dutch ship, flying the Dutch flag and pendants, attacked by five Dunkirk privateers. They fly the Burgundian ragged-cross flag of the Spanish Netherlands. Guns are being fired from the defending Dutch ship in port-quarter view on the right and from the attacking Dunkirker to the left, seen nearly in starboard-broadside view. This interpretation probably depicts the 1640 engagement between the Dutch commander de With and the Navarrese Admiral Miguel de Horna, who was the overall sea-commander of the Spanish Flanders fleet. In July 1640 he was intercepted by de With when returning from a privateering voyage. The battle that ensued was long and bloody but the Dutch commander was able to capture two Spanish vessels. The painting is one of a pair with BHC0272, probably commissioned by either a merchant or specific ship owner whose property had been saved or rescued by de With. Both paintings probably depict the same encounter from 1640, since they are similar in overall design and in details of light, weather conditions and vessels shown.
Date made circa 1643

Artist/Maker Loeff, Jacob Gerritsz
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Palmer Collection. Acquired with the assistance of H.M. Treasury, the Caird Fund, the Art Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Society for Nautical Research Macpherson Fund.
Materials oil on wood panel
Measurements Frame: 505 mm x 851 mm x 57 mm;Painting: 381 mm x 724 mm
  • Witte de With's Action with Dunkirkers off Nieuwpoort, 1640 (BHC0271)
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