The influence of early Dutch marine masters on English sea painters shows significant presence in this work by Abraham Hulk. Hulk was known for his skillful and detailed depiction of the indigenous coastal craft of the Netherlands and the men who worked aboard these ships, but his true excellence shows in works like this where the emphasis is on atmospheric effect and lighting.
Fisherman in boats near and far are pulling in their nets and assessing the day’s catch, all bathed in the fading glow of sunset. Light fills the painting- the sun sinks behind the sails of a nearby barque at anchor and highlights buildings on the far shore. Seabirds hover over sparkling water, hoping for a kindly fisherman to share their spoils. The mood is idyllic and serene.
Often identified as a Dutch artist due to his extended residence and studies at the Amsterdam Academy under Augustin Daiwaille, the London born Hulk’s works are desired by collectors who appreciate realism combined with idealized, narrative settings. He is widely considered one of the true masters at portraying the expressive qualities of ambiance in romantic calms.
The low lying lands on either side of the channel create tremendous depth in the composition, which coupled with all the other elements make this a very sophisticated piece among the artist’s oeuvre. Somewhat in the style of his immediate predecessors of British marine art, Domenic Serres and Francis Swaine, this work is at the top of the artists’ output.
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