This is a typical Mediterranean coast painted by Blanckerhoff: a rough sea painted in muted grey tonalities. Our painter did travel a few times to Italy.
He died during the final stages of the Turkish siege of present-day Heraklion, then the capital of Venetian Crete. He actually joined the last Christian support fleet that got there.
About Jan Theunisz. Blanckerhoff
Dutch marine painter
Alkmaar 1628 – 1669 Amsterdam
According to Houbraken pupil in Alkmaar of the further unknown Arent Teerling, called “Cinceer”; later he also studied under Pieter Schaeyenborgh, Caesar van Everdingen and Gerrit de Jong.
Blanckerhoff became a member of the Painter's Guild of Alkmaar in 1649. After this date he left for Italy: according to Houbraken he was twice or even three times in Rome.
In Rome he was member of the “Schildersbent” (group of Nordic painters): here he was nicknamed “Jan Maat” that is “Jan Friend”, but it can of course also refer to him having been a sailor, a shipmate.
In 1659 Blanckerhoff was back in Holland: he married that same year in Amsterdam. The following years he probably lived in Amsterdam; in 1663 he became member of the Painter's Guild of Amsterdam.
The marine painter Aernout Smit (Amsterdam (?) 1641 – 1710 Amsterdam) was a pupil of Blanckerhoff.
During the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1664-1667) Blanckerhoff accompanied twice the Dutch fleet as an artist, in 1665 and 1666, at the service of the Amsterdam Admiralty.
In 1663 Blanckerhoff was asked to paint a huge canvas (229 X 271,5 cm) of the Battle of Bossu on the Zuiderzee in 1573. The painting was ready in 1666, it was delivered at the City Hall of Hoorn (where it is still kept) in 1668 with a monumental sculpted frame by Johannes Kinnema. It became one of the best known 17th century Dutch paintings. Blanckerhoff was paid 800 guilders, Kinnema 575.
In the Spring of 1669 Blanckerhoff left with a Dutch fleet to chase the Turks from Crete.
He was buried October 2nd 1669 in Amsterdam.
About the Schildersbent
The Schildersbent was a society of Dutch, Flemish, a few German and a single French painter, all of them active in Rome.
It was founded in or circa 1623.
Its members were called the “Bentvueghels’” (“group of birds”). Although created as a support for compatriots it soon became well known for its rather convivial meetings, in so far that in 1720 this joyful society was forbidden by papal decree for too many feasts had ended in the greatest disorder.
Every member of the Schildersbent received a surname, a so-called “Bentname”.
The most important members of the Bentveughels:
- 1620s – 1630s: first generation: Cornelis van Poelenburgh, Bartholomeus Breenbergh and Pieter van Laer;
- 1640s: second generation; Jan Both, Jan Asselijn, Nicolaes Berchem, Jan Baptist Weenix, Adam Pynacker and Karel Dujardin;
- third quarter 17th century: third generation: Johannes Glauber, Jan-Frans van Bloemen and Hendrick van Lint.
In the first generation there was no difference between the artistic production made in Rome or back home, for the second generation there was and the third generation settled permanently in Rome, they did not return to their home country.
About the battle for Crete
Crete had for centuries been one of the strongholds of Venice in the Eastern Mediterranean. In the 1600s, Venice's power in the Mediterranean was waning, as Ottoman power grew.
In 1644, the Knights of Malta attacked an Ottoman convoy on its way from Alexandria to Istanbul. They landed at Candia with the loot, which included part of the Sultan's harem, returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca. In response Ottoman troops disembarked on Venetian Crete and occupied La Canea (modern Chania) and Rettimo (modern Rethimno). Both of these cities took two months each to conquer. Between 1645 and 1648, the Turks occupied the rest of the island and prepared to take the capital, Candia, present-day Heraklion.
During the Cretan War (1645 – 1669), the Ottomans besieged the city for 22 years, from 1648 to 1669, the second-longest siege in history. In its final phase, which lasted for 22 months, 70,000 Turks, 38,000 Cretans and slaves and 29,088 of the city's Christian defenders perished. In the final years of 1668/1669 help came in vain from several European countries, especially from France, but also from the German Holy Roman Empire, from the Duc of Hannover, the Teutonic Order and even from the towns of Stasbourg and Munich.
According to Arnold Houbraken, the painter’s biographer in his “De Groote Schouburgh” of 1718, Blanckerhoff joined the last European fleet send to Crete in the Spring of 1669 lead by Josias II, Count of Waldeck with 3.300 German troops form the Principality of Lunenburg in Lower Saxony. Many of them died, including the Count and our painter.
About our painting
Blanckerhoff’s seascapes are characterized by the use of a muted grey palette, and the rendering of subtle atmospheric effects, which also can be seen in the diffused lighting of the coastline.
Blanckerhoff was especially skilful at portraying rough seas, such as in the present work. Our Mediterranean coastline must remind of his travels in Italy.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this tumultuous marine painting reflects perfectly the character of the painter, as described by Arnold Houbraken in 1718.