PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
A ROCKY COASTAL LANDSCAPE WITH A SKIRMISH BETWEEN ENGLISH VESSELS AND GALLEYS
17 by 36 in.; 43.1 by 91.5 cm.
signed lower right A. Willarts F
oil on panel
Purchased by Daniel Wilkie (1846-1914), and thence by descent in the family of the present owners.
Born in Antwerp, Willaerts spent most of his life in the inland city of Utrecht. He is recorded in 1611 as one of the founders of the Utrecht St. Luke's Guild. His early work suggests a combination of artistic influences such as that of Jan Brueghel the Elder, whose paintings he would have known in Antwerp, and of the Dutch marine painter, Hendrick Cornelisz. Vroom. In 1619, Roelandt Savery, another Flanders native, also settled in Utrecht and his influence is evident in Willaerts' rocky landscapes.
Willaerts' marine paintings are usually beach or coastal scenes in horizontal format with numerous figures in the foreground, lending a strong narrative touch. He often incorporated lateral framing devices such as rocks, trees and castles. Though he sometimes painted historical subjects and actual sea battles, many are fantasy scenes. In the present work, English vessels, identifiable by the flags with the red cross of St. George, are in battle with galleys off what appears to be a rocky Mediterranean coastline.