FIGURES ON A SHORELINE, WITH SHIPPING & A DISTANT VIEW OF A NORTHERN EUROPEAN TOWN
Signed & dated l.r. verwer inventor 1636
Pen & ink with grey wash
18 x 29cm
Patrick Dockar-Drysdale (1929-2020), Wick Hall, Radley
Another work signed in the same manner and dated to the same year can be found in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig (inv./cat.nr Z. 1276). Further comparable works include Canal Landscape with Figures, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc. no. 1975.131.167); there is a further work, highly comparable to the present in its application of wash and use of staffage as a framing device, in a private collection in Amsterdam (cf. Van Dalen, Rondom het Tolhuys aan Rijn en Waal : uit de geschiedenis van Lobith, Tolkamer, Spijk, Herwen en Aerdt (1972) , pp.64-65); and there is an important series of topographical drawings of Dutch and Northern French coastal towns and cities, in the British Museum, London.
Abraham de Verwer was likely born in Haarlem, the city wherein he was registered as living with his wife, Barbara Sillevorts, in 1607. Her will, which a Haarlem notary drew up for her in that very year, identifies her husband as a cabinet maker. When Abraham de Verwer appeared before an Amsterdam notary on January 9, 1617, however, he was identified as a painter. Presumably, De Verwer therefore learned to paint in oils at some point between 1607 and 1617, probably by studying with the famous Haarlem marine painter Hendrick Vroom (1563–1640), before moving to Amsterdam. De Verwer’s early marine paintings of the 1620s reflect the large, brightly colored, and highly detailed depictions of marine battles that characterize Vroom’s work of the 1610s. De Verwer’s son, Justus de Verwer (c. 1625–c. 1685), who was also a marine painter, likely trained with his father.
De Verwer was extremely successful commercially in his new artistic career: his large battle scenes soon adorned the walls of the Amsterdam Admiralty, the Burgerweeshuis (Amsterdam’s civic orphanage), and the collection of the House of Orange. In the late 1630's he traveled to France, where he made a number of paintings and topographical drawings of French ports and at least four paintings of the Louvre. In 1638, with the assistance of Constantijn Huygens, secretary to the Prince of Orange, De Verwer sent a number of drawings of French ports to Prince Frederik Hendrik, and in the following year sold him four paintings of French subjects, including two views of the Louvre. In 1642, identifying himself as “Seigneur Abraham de Verwer van Burghstrate,” he acquired a house called “De vergulde Fonteyn” on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam for 6,500 guilders - an indication of his impressive stature and financial success by the peak of his career.