Ludolf Backhuysen and Abraham Storck dominated Dutch marine painting during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. Abraham Storck appears on the members list of the St. Luke Guild as late as 1688, when he had already gained recognition with his portal and estuary views, often crowded with a myriad of figures and vessels. His oeuvre consists furthermore of some sea battles of exceptional 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’.
The present painting is a unicum in the artist’s oeuvre, since no other storms by his hand have survived. It concerns most probably an exceptionally early work (even before the first dated painting of 1673), at a time the painter worked in close collaboration with Backhuysen. The ships are extremely accurate in execution and the light is cleverly divided over the composition. In the foreground, an English three-master, behind a foundering Dutch merchant vessel.
Drs. Pieter Roelofs (curator, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) is currently preparing a catalogue raisonné on the artist.