Adriaen Cornelisz. van Salm

1660/5 – 1720

Dutch Herring Fleet Boats casting Nets with a Rowing Boat in the Foreground, a Man-of-War in the Middle Distance and other Shipping beyond


Penschilderij on Panel




73(h) x 107(w) cms


Signed 'A. Salm' lower right


Adriaen Cornelisz. van Salm was a schoolmaster and textile merchant as well as a marine painter working around the town of Delftshaven, near Rotterdam. He married Annetje Roelofs van de Veur in 1686 and that same year he began teaching in Schenderloo. By 1693 he was back in Delftshaven, but it was not until 1706 that he joined the Guild of St. Luke in Delft as a master draughtsman; obviously penschilderij was regarded as a drawing skill rather than a painting skill at this time.

According to Wurzbach van Salm visited the Cape (although this is totally unconfirmed) and completed a number of paintings and engravings. Whaling subjects were of particular interest to van Salm and these, along with his naval action scenes, are perhaps the most interesting of his works, although rarer village scenes are also known.

The art of the grisaille, or penschilderij, was perfected in Seventeenth century Holland and arguably the greatest exponent and probable inventor of the medium is Willem van de Velde the Elder. Most grisailles were drawn with a reed pen or brush on a prepared white ground with Indian Ink. The support was usually an oak panel, although canvas could be used. Shade and variations in tone were produced in the way a print or engraving would be, that is by cross hatching and parallel strokes of the pen. This technique was particularly suitable for very fine work and allowed a greater degree of detail. It did, however, leave very little margin for error, requiring patience and a steady hand.

This painting is a valuable testament to the industry of herring-fishing, which was of crucial importance to the Dutch economy at the time. The Man-of-War also demonstrates the power of the Dutch as a sea-faring nation.

Van Salm was known to produce near-identical paintings of popular motifs in varying sizes according to the wishes of his clients. Another, very large, version of this composition is in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (Collection ID: BHC0967).


With Galerie Heim Gairac, Paris, by 1988,
From there acquired by a private collector, France,
Anon. sale, Paris, Tajan, 14 Dec. 1998, lot 215 (for 140,000 francs).