• The "Motława" ferry does not operate due to the river embankment renovation until further notice

They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships. Masters of Dutch and Flemish Marine Painting of 17th and 18th Centuries in Polish Collections

The largest exhibition of its kind in Poland. “They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships. Masters of Dutch and Flemish Marine Painting of 17th and 18th Centuries in Polish Collections” is the first comprehensive presentation of Dutch and Flemish marinas of the “Golden Age” in Poland. Along the most valuable works from the National Maritime Museum’s own collection, the visitors can see paintings from the National Museums in Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław and Gdańsk as well as the Royal Castle in Warsaw, the Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection in Kraków, Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów, among others. An exceptional addition to the exhibition are three outstanding works of Dutch marine art brought especially for the occasion from the Rijksmuseum and Het Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam.

Sea Battles, Safe Harbours, Expeditions to Unknown Lands and Battles against the Elements

The compositional schemes, the colour palette and the repertoire of subjects that still serve as a model and inspiration for maritime painters were developed by painters in the Northern Netherlands. It is believed that such a momentous development of the genre precisely in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands stemmed from the omnipresence of the sea in all aspects of the lives of its inhabitants, from the economy and daily functioning to internal and external political considerations. The survival of the state depended on the sea, on its inhabitants’ ability to tame its element. – The ambivalence of the element of water, sometimes represented as a source of wealth, at other times as a deadly threat, is the basis of the narrative of our exhibition,’ says Dr Monika Jankiewicz-Brzostowska, head of the Maritime Art Department at the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk. – The exhibition covers four subjects, dealing with fundamental aspects of the experience of contact with the sea as perceived by the Dutch society. The subjects appeal to emotions and needs deeply rooted in human nature, such as the sense of security and prosperity on one hand, and on the other hand: longing for adventure or fear for life. – adds the curator. The themes of the exhibition are: Sea Battles – presenting artworks inspired by historical necessity of fighting to win and then to maintain independence and safety of the Republic; Safe Harbours and Prosperous Ports – views of busy ports associated with ideas of wealth and power, but also images of small fishing harbours conceived as places of refuge and peace; Voyages to the Shores Unknown – paintings depicting sailing on the open sea or exotic ports, alluding to man’s eternal yearning for adventure; Peril at Sea – depictions of real and symbolic dangers lurking at sea.

The Largest Presentation of Dutch and Flemish Marine Painting in Poland

The narrative of the exhibition is created by, among others, works by masters such as Simon de Vlieger, Ludolf Bakhuizen, Jan and Julius Porcellis, Jan Abrahamszoon Beerstraaten, painters from the Willaerts family, Lieve Verschuier or Thomas Heeremans – their paintings come from the collections of Polish museums. From Amsterdam, the painting “Silence” by Willem van de Velde the Younger, regarded as the most outstanding Dutch marine painter, and works by Abraham Storck and Reinier Nooms depicting navigation on the river IJ in Amsterdam were brought to Gdańsk. For the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk, the exhibition provides an opportunity to present its collection of Dutch and Flemish marinas that has been accumulated over decades. It consists primarily of works by authors who have already been identified, such as the painting “In the Roadstead” signed by Jan Abrahamszoon Beerstraaten, depicting the roadstead of the port of Vlissingen, where one of the two most important shipyards of the Admiralty of Zeeland and the base of the East India Company vessels were located. There are also works in the aforementioned collection that have been attributed to specific authors on the basis of stylistic analysis, such as Jacob Adriaenszoon Bellevois’ “Sailing Ship in a Storm”. There are also some whose authors are still unrecognised, such as “Burning Ship”, a painting depicting a nighttime fire in the Amsterdam harbour.

The National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk invites you to the exhibition “They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships. Masters of Dutch and Flemish Marine Painting of 17th and 18th Centuries in Polish Collections” at the Granaries on Ołowianka Island from 15 June to 15 September 2024.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue.

Curatorial team: Dr Monika Jankiewicz-Brzostowska, Zuzanna Mikołajek-Kiełb
Honorary patronage of the exhibition: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Media patronage: TVP Kultura, TVP 3 Gdańsk, Radio Gdańsk, Dziennik Bałtycki, Trojmiasto.pl


They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships. Masters of Dutch and Flemish Marine Painting of 17th and 18th Centuries in Polish Collections
15.06.2024 – 15.09.2024
Granaries on Ołowianka Island

They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships. Masters of Dutch and Flemish Marine Painting of 17th and 18th Centuries in Polish Collections. Poster

The organization of the exhibition “They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships… Masters of Dutch and Flemish Marine Painting of 17th and 18th Centuries in Polish Collections” is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland