The ‘Nieuwe Brug’, the new stone bridge on the IJ side span the Damrak, was one of the liveliest parts of the city. Against the Nieuwe brug on the exterior was standing the ‘paalhuis’ the wooden pole house, where they collected the ‘pole’ or harbour dues. It also served as a post office for sea post. In 1681 the city of Amsterdam built a heavy embankment and therefore the pole house had to be demolished. The New City Inn, located on the Martelaarsgracht, was built in 1662 and was meant to lodge guests from outside the city after the harbour was closed for the night. It has been pulled down with the construction of the station island in 1876. The Haringpakkerstoren was built around 1500 and was part of the 16thcentury defence wall. The tower stood at the beginning of the Singel, near the IJ and was dismantled in 1829. So this painting is topographically important for the city of Amsterdam.
The painting is a collaboration of Abraham Storck as a marine painter and his brother, Jacobus Storck who generally painted city views. The figures, ships, sky and water are executed by Abraham Storck and the buildings by Jacobus. As was common practice in the studios of the time, each specialized on a specific task or genre to complete the whole scene. This combination of the two artists we find back in many pendants that are still in existence today, notably in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Marine painting in the fourth quarter of the seventeenth century was dominated by Ludolf Backhuysen en Abraham Storck, who gained recognition with his portal and estuary scenes, crowded with a staff age of figures and vessels. Apart from that, his oeuvre contains some sea battles of exceptionally quality. Houbraken mentions him in 1721 as a painter of ‘turbulent and calm sea-pieces’, ships and jetties crowded with figures, as well as ferries and other vessels, stuffed with soldiers and sailors with crates and cargo’. He showed considerable accuracy in depicting ships’ rigging and technical details. Often his Dutch harbour and river views depict the recreational and ceremonial aspects of shipping. In particular he concentrated on showing pleasure yachts and ceremonial gatherings of ships. He, also, focused particularly on depictions of both spectators and passengers. In such work he showed great skill representing the human figure, through characterization as well as attention to costume and detail.
Jacobus Storck is primarely known as a painter of city views. This painting is a fine example of the collaboration between the two artists.