Ludolf Backhuysen I
Dutch, 1630 ‑ 1708
A Frigate and Other Vessels on a Rough Sea, 1681
Oil on canvas
21 1/4 × 27 3/16 in. (53.9 × 69 cm.)
Gift of the Charter Collectors 1995.14
When Commerce Met Naval Power
This painting features a group of ships belonging to the Dutch East India Company’s merchant fleet, whose dominance of sea trade brought the Dutch Republic unrivaled prosperity. Look at the heavily-armed frigate in the center, at anchor with its sails set out to dry. It displays a long tricolor flag, indicating that the commander is on board. To its left, a rowboat ferries a dignitary to a finely carved yacht bearing the initials “VOC” (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or Dutch East India Company). As the yacht fires a salute, fishermen in a small rowboat in the foreground watch with curiosity.