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Signed and dated A.B.R SPEECK 1634. The painting depicts a view over the Danish whaling cookery on the island of Danskoya at Spitsbegen, Svalbard. The cookery was run by the two brothers Johannes and Gothard Braem, both of them depicted at the down center of the painting. The motif shows the full process of the whale-oil industry during the first part of the 17th century. At the far left the actual hunt is being conducted from ships bearing the Danish flag and the flag of the order Den væpnede arms, while the center and right focus on the different steps of producing the whale-oil, with the two brothers making a deal with a merchant in the center of the foreground.

The struggle for control over the whaling industry was of huge economical and political importance to both Denmark and the Netherlands. This is illustrated by the reproduction of Danish Whale Station in 1639 by Cornelis de Man entitled Whale-Oil Factory of the Amsterdam Chamber of the Northern Company at Smerenburg, now in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In this painting by de Man the motif and composition are the same, but all signs of the factory being Danish are here replaced with Dutch flags and ships.

Details

  • Title: Danish Whaling Station
  • Creator: Abraham Speeck
  • Date Created: 1634
  • artist: Abraham Speeck
  • Tags: Genre scene
  • Provenance: Nyborg Castle before 1658, Skokloster Castle 1676
  • Physical Dimensions: w 1970, h 1210 mm (without frame)
  • Artist info: The painting is signed and dated A.B.R SPEECK 1634. Although there are no records of an artist active with that name at that time it is likely that the name corresponds to an Abraham Speeck of Amsterdam who was a builder and an inventor of fireworks who also supposedly worked as a painter. Records shows that he was involved with the whaling industry at Spitsbergen as an inventor of rocket propelled harpoons tested there in 1638. The connection between the name, the geographic location, the period of time and the occupation makes it highly plausible that this Abraham Speeck is the artist.
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • External Link: Skokloster Castle

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