Marine paintings celebrated the backbone of the Dutch economy, documenting the global mercantile enterprise while at the same time capturing the atmospheric wonders of water, air, and shore. Ludolf Backhuysen was one of the foremost Dutch painters of marine views. He put his early training as a calligrapher to good use when depicting highly decorated ships and their complicated rigging. In "Dutchmen Embarking onto a Yacht," he illustrates the departure of a Dutch shipping fleet, which was often accompanied by a flotilla of smaller ships as it left the harbor.

This painting probably depicts the area near the Straits of Texel, where the merchant fleet from Amsterdam joined its military escort before entering the North Sea. Dignitaries enter a small boat, which will take them to a party in progress on board a state yacht as they escort the other ships—cargo-carrying flutes and the military men-of-war—to open sea. Several people gather on the breezy shore to watch the event, perhaps including the artist (at left, holding onto his hat) and his wife, who can be recognized from other Backhuysen portraits.


  • Title: Dutchman Embarking onto a Yacht
  • Creator: Ludolf Backhuysen (Dutch, b.1631, d.1708)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1631/1708
  • Creator Nationality: Dutch
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Date Created: 1670s
  • Location: The Netherlands
  • Location Created: The Netherlands
  • Physical Dimensions: 22 1/2 x 33 in. (57 x 84 cm.)
  • Credit Line: Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial, Fanny Bryce Lehmer Endowment, John J. Emery Endowment, Mr. and Mrs. Harry S. Leyman Endowment, Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wichgar, and Lawrence Archer Wachs Fund
  • Accession Number: 1993.140
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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