Aernout Smit was a pupil of Jan Theunisz. Blanckerhoff (1628 – 1669). Like his master he had been a sailor and he had travelled extensively before turning to painting.
Our composition shows the busy harbour of Amsterdam before 1672, the so-called Disaster Year, when England, France, Munster and Cologne joined forces and attacked the Dutch Republic simultaneously.
About Aernout Smit
Dutch marine painter
Amsterdam (?) 1641 – 1710 Amsterdam
Pupil of Jan Theunisz. Blanckerhoff (Alkmaar 1628 – 1669 Amsterdam).
Blanckerhoff is documented in Amsterdam between 1659 and 1666.
It would appear that Aernout Smit travelled extensively, as some of his pictures of both the Mediterranean shores and of Greenland were probably painted from nature. His master Jan Theunisz. Blanckerhoff had also travelled to Italy and Greece. Apparently three 17th century Dutch marine painters, Blanckerhoff, Smit and Reinier Nooms (1623 – 1667 or later), had started working as sailors, as shipmates, before turning to painting. Their first-hand knowledge of shipping and far-away places in the Mediterranean is reflected in their accurate records of ships and of topographical views.
Smit’s early works, often of small dimensions, are characterized by light grey tonalities and a very good perspective. Most of them represent Mediterranean shores, others, such as our painting of Amsterdam, show Dutch waters.
Later in his career Smit became strongly influenced by Ludolf Backhuysen (1630 – 1708), the most important Dutch marine painter of the later part of the 17th century active in Holland (Willem van de Velde II had moved to England in 1672). Under his influence his marine paintings became more colourful.
Smit is mentioned in a document of 1688 as a member of the Amsterdam Painter's Guild of Saint Luke.
About our painting
In between a dense forest of masts one can see in the background two church towers: the spire of the Zuiderkerk (Southern church) at left and right of it the one of the Oude Kerk (Old Church). The first one reaches 68 m, the second one 70 m.
Our painting must date from before 1672, when the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672 – 1674) started. That year the so-called Dutch Golden Age ended when the Republic was being simultaneously attacked by King Charles II of England and by King Louis XIV of France, with the help of the Bishop of Münster and of the Archbishop of Cologne. 1672 is known in Holland as the “Disaster Year” (“Rampjaar”). Although the Dutch Republic was able to withstand this international coalition, it would never completely recover.
Why should you buy our painting?
Because it shows Amsterdam at its zenith: the 1660s were the last decade of the Dutch Golden Age, both economically and artistically.