Mase, Pieter van, harbour scene
11.000 €

An Italianate harbour scene with a statue representing the fight between Hercules and Antaeus in front of a town gate
Oil on canvas : 60,0 X 81,5 cm
Probably signed with a monogram bottom middle “P. ME”
Frame : 70,6 X 95,0 cm


About Pieter van Mase
Dutch painter 
Circa 1650 – 1703/1723
Active in Rotterdam during the second half of the 17th century. He was last mentioned in 1703 (valuing an estate in The Hague).
Dated works known between 1671 and 1703.
His last name is sometimes spelt van Maas, Maasis, Maes or Maesis.
Although working at a time were painting got more and more specialised, with painters active in just one or maybe two different domains, van Mase seems to have been marvellously old fashioned. He did not restrain himself to just painting the same subject(s) for the rest of his life. Van Mase painted a very diverse range of subjects at a very descent level of quality. 
In a market where names can be more important than the sheer quality of painting it is not surprising that his paintings over the past years turned out to have been attributed to several well and better known contemporary painters.
He painted :
- Italianate and Levantine harbour scenes, related to Johannes Lingelbach (1622 – 1674), to Thomas Wijck (1616/24 – 1677), to Jan Baptist Weenix (1621 – 1663) and to Hendrick van Minderhout (1632 – 1696).
- Rhine river views, related to Herman Saftleven II (1609 – 1685).
- Italianate market scenes, related to Hendrick Mommers (circa 1623 – 1693).
- Dutch summer village feasts and winter views with ice skaters, reminding of Claes Molenaer and of Thomas Heeremans (1641 – 1697).
- Dutch beach scenes, reminding of Jan van Goyen (1596 – 1656) and of Claes Molenaer (before 1630 – 1676).
- Fish still lifes, like Abraham van Beyeren (1620/21 – 1690) and Isaac van Duynen (1628 – 1679/81).
- Birds and chickens in park landscapes, typical of Melchior de Hondecoeter (1636 – 1695).
Pieter van Mase was also active as staffage painter, including figures in paintings from colleagues. We know for example of two paintings by Jan Sonjé holding numerous figures by van Mase : one is in Ouwater, in the old catholic rectory, the other one we sold in 2006 (the pool of Bethesda).
Jan Gabrielsz. Sonjé was a Dutch landscape painter (Delft circa 1625 – 1707 Rotterdam?), a pupil of Adam Pynacker. Sonjé left Delft in 1654, probably after the huge explosion of its powder-magazine, for Rotterdam. 
In 1678, 1686 and 1692 he was Dean of the Guild of Saint Luke in Rotterdam. In 1668 he lived in Dordrecht.
Pieter’s brother, Gerrit, was also active as painter in Rotterdam.
About Hercules
The greatest Greek divine hero, Heracles, is best known under his Roman name, Hercules. He was the son of Zeus (Jupiter) and of a mortal woman, Alcmene. Zeus had been boasting that the next boy born in the house of Perseus was to become a powerful ruler (of Argos or Tiryns). Zeus’ wife, Hera, who was fed up with the infidelity of her husband, saw to it that Eurystheus was born prematurely and therefore became the next king.
Eurystheus imposed upon Hercules the famous Twelve Labours, tasks so difficult that no mortal could fulfil them. But Hercules did.
1. Slay the Nemean Lion.
2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.
3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis.
4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
5. Clean the Augean stables in a single day.
6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds.
7. Capture the Cretan Bull.
8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.
11. Steal the apples of the Hesperides 
12.    Capture and bring back Cerberus.
About our statue of Hercules and Antaeus
On his way to the Garden of the Hesperides (the eleventh labour) Hercules fought the half-giant Antaeus. He was the son of the sea-god Poseidon (Neptune) and the goddess of earth Gaia (Terra). Antaeus challenged passers-by to wrestle with him, but he was invincible: each time when he got tired he would throw himself onto the ground, coming into contact with his mother and getting fresh energy. This way Antaeus would always win and kill all his opponents.
While fighting him Hercules discovered Antaeus’ secret source of energy. He held him in the air and he was finally able to kill him.
This fight became a much loved subject in ancient Greco-Roman art, but also during the Renaissance and the Baroque.
About our painting
This painting is a typical composition by van Mase: Dutch ships in a fictitious Italianate harbour populated with a colourful population, including a few stevedores and Orientals.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a rich, decorative composition.
Comparative paintings
Click photos for more details