In this Shipping to Flushing at the roadstead of Calais, a French Admirality ship is depicted on the left flying the blue and white flag of the city of Calais. Another three-master is just arriving and there are a number of vessels in the waters. In the foreground of the painting some figures are on the shore.
Reinier Nooms, also known as Zeeman (seaman), who reached the peak of his career in the middle of the seventeenth century, was one of Amsterdam’s most distinguished and renowned marine painters.
He was born in 1623 or 1624, probably in Amsterdam. On 6 April 1653 he married Maria Jansdr Mozijn or Mouzijn, the elder sister of the engraver Michiel Mozijn, with whom Nooms collaborated on at least two occasions.
Nooms was in Paris sometime between 1650 and 1652, where he may have become acquainted with the art of etching, possibly training in the workshop of Michiel van Plattenberg. He issued a few prints on his own shortly after his return from Paris, but must have entered into a sort of business agreement with Cornelis Danckerts. As in his paintings, the artistic challenge of capturing the atmospheric effects of depth and light can be seen in his etchings. In 1661 Nooms sailed to the Mediterranean with a Dutch fleet under the command of the famous admiral, Michiel de Ruyter, who was being sent to the Barbary coast to put down the pirates and prevent them from doing any further harm to Dutch merchantmen. Nooms made numerous sketches on the voyage. Despite the fact that Reinier Nooms’s career lasted a mere ten years, he achieved great things in that short space of time.
He is considered to be one of the most important Dutch maritime artists of the seventeenth century after the Van de Veldes, and in addition to his oeuvre of marine paintings he is unanimously regarded as the greatest etcher of ships and cityscapes. His etchings are one of the prime sources for the identification of ship types, so his work is of inestimable value to maritime historians and restorers of antique model ships.
Nooms brings to life almost every type of ship then known – no fewer than 40 – from impressive war frigates, ‘Straits ships’ (that sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar) and large East Indiamen, down to the smallest vessels plying the inland waterways. His pursuit of a faithful representation of reality is reflected in his entire oeuvre, which consists of views of the harbour of Amsterdam, the Levant, sea battles and many drawings.