SIMON DE VLIEGER (Rotterdam c. 1600/01 – 1653 Weesp)

Simon de Vlieger

Simon de Vlieger (Rotterdam c. 1600/01 – 1653 Weesp)

Fishing Vessels and Yachts in Calm Waters in a Harbour

Black chalk, traces of white chalk, on buff paper, 179 x 307 mm (7 x 12.1 inch)

~ With Bernard Houthakker, Amsterdam
~ Jiles Boon (1916-2009), Rhoon, near Rotterdam (his collector’s mark ‘B’, Lugt 3355) by 1975 until sold by his descendants at Christie’s, South Kensington, 8 December 2011, lot 205, repr.

Master Drawings, Bernard Houthakker, Amsterdam 1969, no. 9, repr.


Simon de Vlieger was born in 1600 or 1601, presumably in Rotterdam, where he is first documented.1 He was married in Rotterdam in 1627. His earliest paintings are from 1624 and show the influence of Jan Porcellis, who was active in Rotterdam from 1605-15 and could have been Simon’s teacher. The influence of Hendrick Vroom and Adam Willarts can also be discerned, while De Vlieger’s figures show an awareness of the Rotterdam artist Willem Buytewech. In 1634 the artist moved to Delft, where he joined the Guild of St Luke on 18 October of that year. Four years later De Vlieger moved to Amsterdam, and in 1649 settled in nearby Weesp.

De Vlieger is one of the very few Dutch artists who achieved prosperity from his artistic output. He is mainly known as a painter of marines and beach scenes, interested with atmospheric effects and the interplay of clouds, water, and sky. He was also a designer of tapestries and stained-glass windows. A highly active draughtsman, De Vlieger’s drawings are mostly landscapes, as atmospheric as his paintings.

The present drawing is a good example of De Vlieger’s rare marine drawings.2 The swift and assured touch creates the impression that the scene was drawn from life.

The attribution to De Vlieger has been confirmed by Dr C.P. van Eeghen at the time of the Christie’s sale in 2011.


1. For the artist, see Jeroen Giltaij and Jan Kelch, Praise of Ships and the Sea. The Dutch Marine Painters of the 17th Century, exh. cat. Rotterdam/Berlin 1996, pp. 190-93.
2. For De Vlieger’s drawings, see: Ch.P. van Eeghen, 'Simon de Vlieger as a draftsman, I: the pen drawings', Master Drawings 44 (2006), pp. 3-47 and Ch.P. van Eeghen, 'Simon de Vlieger as a draftsman, II: chalk drawings other than pure landscapes', Master Drawings 49 (2011), pp. 179-221.