River estuary with shipping on a windy day

Simon de Vlieger, 1601 - 1653

River estuary with shipping on a windy day

Simon de Vlieger 1601 - 1653


A small, clinker built cargo vessel, known as a kaag, with three figures on board, is running before the wind, which is coming from the left. There is a spit of land to the right, marked by pennants on buoys, and more sailing boats in the distance to the left and right. A vast, clouded sky takes up more than three quarters of the canvas. Intense areas of light and dark define the sea; in the light passages, the choppy waves have a wonderful translucency. Simon de Vlieger was one of the most important Dutch marine painters of the seventeenth century. In the 1630s, he adopted the ‘tonal' style of seascape painting, initially pioneered by Jan Porcellis (ca. 1584-1632), whose deliberately restricted palette dominated by browns and greys was intended to capture effectively the natural colouration and atmospheric effects of the North Sea and dune landscapes. In the 1640s, his style became more individualistic and many paintings from this period have a distinctive silvery tonality. De Vlieger strongly influenced the next generation of marine artists, such as Willem van de Velde II, Hendrik Dubbels, Abraham van Beyeren, Hendrick Martensz. Sorgh and Jan van de Cappelle.

Display Label

River Estuary with Shipping on a Windy Day  about 1630-40

Simon de Vlieger  1601-53

Oil on panel


This small, simple scene highlights de Vlieger’s skills as a draughtsman, particularly the way he paints the waves, small figures and fishing boat, called a kaag.


Here de Vlieger uses a restricted blue and grey palette, echoing the trend in landscape painting at the time. The only bright accents are the red of the figures’ clothes and the Dutch flags flying in the breeze.


De Vlieger spent much of his career observing marine life in the harbour cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. He mainly painted seascapes, which vary in size and mood.


Assheton Bennett bequest  1979.514

Object Name

River estuary with shipping on a windy day

Creators Name

Simon de Vlieger


object: 30cm x 38.9cm

accession number


Place of creation





Bequeathed by Mr and Mrs Assheton-Bennett.


© Manchester Art Gallery

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