Jan Peeters I belonged to an important Flemish family of painters who specialized in maritime subjects. He painted both local and Mediterranean views. He must have travelled extensively in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The harbour of Samos Island is recognizable by its fortress and the tower that stands a bit further; both can also be seen in mirror view in the engraving of the island made by Lucas Vorsterman II after a drawing by Jan Peeters I. Peeters further identified the place by the representation of a statue of the Greek goddess Hera on the quay. In Antiquity Samos was especially known for its huge temple of Hera, the Heraion. Peeters signed this work with a now faded monogram on the coat-of-arms that the goddess is holding.
Between the late 1470s and 1821 the island fell under Turkish, Ottoman rule.
About Jan Peeters I
Antwerp 1624 – 1677 or 1680 Antwerp
Marine and landscape painter.
Member of an important family of painters, most of them of maritime subjects. Best known is Jan ‘s brother, Bonaventura I.
Jan I was the younger brother and pupil of Bonaventura I (1614 – 1652) and of Gillis I (1612 – 1653).
Our painter, Jan Peeters I, became Master in the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in 1645.
Nine years later he got married in Antwerp in 1654.
In 1659 he spent six months in Holland designing panoramic depictions of several towns and harbours that were later engraved by Gaspard Bouttats.
Besides domestic marine scenes Jan I also painted a lot of Mediterranean scenes. He is best known for his rough seas with shipwrecks, but he was equally skilled at rendering calm waters.
His style is meticulous. He was a skilled painter of atmospheric conditions, especially of clouds. Occasionally he painted winter scenes and town views.
About the other painters of the Peeters family
- Bonaventura I was one of the most important 17th century Flemish marine painters; he painted both domestic Flemish and Dutch waters, and exotic, Turkish subjects (referring to the Eastern Mediterranean, but possibly also to the coasts of Northern Africa).
- Gillis I travelled to South America, visiting the Dutch colonies and making topographical landscapes; based on his accounts Bonaventura I also painted a few “Brazilian” coasts. He also painted landscapes.
- Catharina (1615 – after 1676), their sister, must also have painted marine paintings.
Gillis I had two sons who also became painters.
Bonaventura II (1641 – 1702) was a pupil of Bonaventura I. His landscapes show the influence of his father, his seascapes betray the impact of his uncle. Most of his Turkish subjects have until recently been wrongly attributed to his uncle, Bonaventura I.
Of Gillis II (1645 – 1678) there is only one signed and dated landscape known. He died in a convent in present-day Indonesia, then a Dutch colony, at the age of 33.
Of his third son, Willem, nothing is known.
As to our Jan Peeters I he had two children who studied painting under him, but who are further unknown: his son Jan Frans and his daughter Isabella Josina.
The famous still life painter Clara Peeters was not related to this branch of the Peeters, nor was the painter of architectural scenes Jacob Peeters.
About the engravings after drawings made by Jan Peeters I
Jan Peeters I was also active as a draughtsman, whose typographic views were engraved. He must have travelled extensively in the Mediterranean. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam holds 3 different sets of engravings after “Joan Peeters” :
- Diverse viste delli luoghi e contrade di Barbaria e il Stretto di Gibraltar.
This set holds 25 topographic engravings of North Africa, Egypt
and Palestine by Lucas Vorsterman II and by Gaspar Bouttats,
presumably from 1664.
- Diverse viste delli Dardanelli del’Strecio come delle città e castelli
This set of 10 topographic engravings holds views of Fanar,
Bartanico, Camos, Canistro, Ladimistri and Satalia, fortified ports
along the Dardanelles, formerly known as the Hellespont, the
narrow strait in NW Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea
and the Sea of Marmara. Most of the engravings were made by
Lucas Vorsterman II, presumably in 1665.
- Diverse viste delle città in Candia, Malta, come nel Archipelago.
These are eleven topographic engravings of Crete, Malta and the
Greek archipel (or the Dardanelles) by Lucas Vosterman II and
Coenrad Lauwers. Circa 1680.
The University of Liège in Belgium holds a set of six engravings after designs by Jan Peeters with views of Crete: “Insula di Candia del Mare Mediteranea”. They were published in Antwerp at the end of the 17th century. The frontispiece was engraved by Coenrard Lauwers (1632 – 1685), the five town views by Lucas Vorsterman (Zaltbommel 1595 – 1675 Antwerpen): two of Chania, one of Rethymnon and two of Souda.
About our painting
Peeters must have portrayed here the harbour of Samos Island, recognizable by its fortress and the tower that stands a bit further.
He also identified the place by the representation of a statue of the Greek goddess Hera. In Antiquity Samos was especially known for its huge temple of Hera, the Heraion.
Samos is today a Greek island in the E. Aegean, laying closely to Turkey.
Peeters exaggerated strongly the mountainous character of its harbour, as he did of all of his Oriental harbour views. But the castle at right and the tower in the background are easily recognizable.
The island fell in Turkish hands in the second half of the 1470s; it came under the administration of the Ottoman chief admiral and was part of the Province of the Islands (the Aegean islands and the main part of mainland Greece).
All the ships in the harbour seems to be Turkish; the third ship flying the green flag of Islam is a galley.
The tall ship at right flies the red Ottoman flag with the moon crescent.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is an uncommon and exotic subject that I was able to identify: the Turkish harbour of Samos in the E. Aegean.