A special and rather nice oil painting has the significant elements that Abraham Hulk’s best artworks possess. It is distinctly crisp for a smaller painting, and it’s a complete composition of several ships in the lowland waters of the Scheldt Waterway flowing westerly into the North Sea. This body of water through the Netherlands is actually the primary nautical approach to Antwerp, and its strategic location has played an important part in conquests and conflicts from Roman times through World War II.
Hulk presents coastal craft and humble fishermen in fine depictions, yet his talented focus is on atmospheric effects and lighting. The sun holds the starring role, yet hides in the cumulus cloud cover, glowing the edges and reflecting on the surface of the salt water. The water glistens, the closer ships hold more shadow and wood-tone coloration, while the distance causes the others to lighten and fade. Building outlines elevate the sea-level headland.
The horizon line makes this feel like a large luminous work of great distance and importance. Somewhat in the style of his immediate predecessors of British marine art, Domenic Serres and Francis Swaine, he masterly makes this little gem of a canvas sing in an eye pleasing composition.
Provenance: Viscount Caldecote. With MacConnal Mason & Son, Ltd., London.
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