Every five years we undertake a condition survey of all our paintings to identify those in most need of conservation. Cuyp’s Shipping on the Maas, Dordrecht is one of our priorities. The canvas of the painting (which was acquired by the fourth Marquess of Hertford in 1857) is undulating and needs to be re-lined. Cleaning will reveal the dramatic contrasts in light and shade that the artist captured so evocatively.
Strategically situated on the River Maas, Dordrecht had been an important trading centre in the Middle Ages. Cuyp (1620-91), one of the leading painters of the Dutch Golden Age, was born and died in the city. In this painting from the early 1650s we see a glimpse of the importance of the river: at least thirteen vessels of varying kinds are depicted.
In the foreground a wijdschip (passage boat) flies a Dutch flag as gleaming white spray is thrown into the air and caught in the sunlight. Sun streams through her sails and highlights the movement of the waves, but in the sky dark clouds cast shadows over the water. To the left, a clear patch of sky emerges and the river in the distance is clear and bright.
Our conservation work relies entirely on your generosity; without it we would not be able to preserve the great works of art in our care and look after them for future generations. Thank you very much for your support.