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The Return to Amsterdam of the Second Expedition to the East Indies on 19 July 1599

Oil paintings

Object details:

Object ID BHC0748
Description This early work by Andries van Eertvelt was based on the more famous painting by Eertvelt's master, Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom (1566-1640) which is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The painting shows the return to Amsterdam of the ships ‘Overijssel’, ‘Vriesland’, ‘Mauritius’ and ‘Hollandia’ from the second Dutch trading expedition to the East Indies in 1599. The city of Amsterdam is visible on the right. The returned ships are grouped in the middle distance with numerous smaller vessels surrounding them. 'Hollandia' is shown at the centre of the group. The painting is detailed in its varied observations of human behaviour. Figures are shown in the foreground boat, on the left, whilst a man can be seen standing on his head in the small craft in the centre. The work is careful in its depiction of rigging, people on deck and other details. Men are shown climbing in the rigging of the ship on the far right. On the assumption that van Eertvelt’s painting is a copy of the more famous work, its title has been changed. The painting celebrates the return of the second Dutch trading expedition to the East Indies. This expedition was just one of the various voyages made by Dutch ships searching for trading opportunities before the formation of the Dutch East India Company in 1602. For a Flemish artist like van Eertvelt to choose a particularly Dutch subject is a clear indication of the involvement of Antwerp painters in the art market of the Northern Netherlands. This successful participation is reflected in the existence of, at least, one more version of the painting which was sold at Sotheby’s by the New York Historical Society in 1995. This painting, on copper, is smaller (432 × 673 mm) and signed ‘AE’. Here, the small vessels retain their original position in the foreground. The painting was acquired by Sir James Caird as the work of Aert van Antum. Such misattribution of van Eertvelt’s early work was pervasive until the 1960s. The current distortion in the perspective of the composition, which is apparent in the unconvincing relationship between the rather large coastal craft and the trading ships, is due to the original panel’s enlargement at the top and bottom edges. It is not possible to confirm the date of the additions. However these extensions have been made in different materials and, as such, they were not part of the original construction. The centre panel is oak and the extensions are mahogany. Before the enlargement, the composition would have been even more similar to Vroom’s painting. This supports the identification of the event as the second expedition. Andries van Eertvelt was born in Antwerp in 1590, where he joined the Guild of St Luke as a master in 1609/10. He is generally seen as the first Flemish marine painter of the seventeenth century. However his work reflects the enduring influence of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. There is a discernible ‘Dutch’ influence in van Eertvelt’s work, which may have come from Hendrick Vroom, despite van Eertvelt not necessarily having been Vroom’s pupil. Eertvelt lived in Italy, 1628-30, staying with the painter Cornelis de Wael in Genoa. After his residence in Italy, van Eertvelt was painted by van Dyck in 1632. His high reputation is reflected in the celebration of his work in Cornelis de Bie’s 'Het Gulden Cabinet van de Edel Vry Schilderconst' (The Golden Cabinet of the Honourable Free Art of Painting). His pupils reputedly included Hendrick van Minderhout, Matthieu van Plattenberg, Sebastian Castro and Kasper van Eyck.
Date made 1610-1620

Artist/Maker Eertvelt, Andries van
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on panel
Measurements Painting: 559 x 914 mm; Frame: 568 mm x 926 mm
  • The Return to Amsterdam of the Second Expedition to the East Indies on 19 July 1599 (BHC0748)
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