Dutch Pinks Returning from Sea, Katwyke Holland
Research by Susan Auty
Acc No 39
Artist Edwin Hayes
Artist dates 1820-1904
Medium Oil on canvas
Size 101.6 x 134.6 cm
Date painted c1876-77
Donor Edith Clare Booth 1884-1964
67 Park Road, Lytham St Annes
Bequeathed 27 May 1964
Edwin Hayes was born in England in 1820 but spent his formative years in Dublin where he studied drawing and painting at the Dublin Society Art School. He exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1842, aged 22, and stayed in Dublin until he moved to London in 1852 where he remained until he died in 1904. In 1855 he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy and continued to show there for almost all of the next 50 years. However, it was at the Royal Hibernian Academy that he was elected a full member in 1871. He was also a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, although most of his paintings were in oils.
He spent his life painting seascapes that almost always featured ships and boats. His proximity to the docks and early experience as a steward and sailor on transatlantic voyages imbued in him a love of marine scenery. (S1) It seems likely that he was influenced by Willem Van der Velde II, as Turner had been before him. (S2) He travelled to and painted on the spot at a wide variety of coastlines, not only in England but also France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands (as can be seen in the displayed painting). His compositions depict various types of boats in a range of very different weather conditions.
A review in The Tablet (7 July 1877, p8) compared another artist’s work to Hayes in a way that shows the high reputation he enjoyed, 'Mr Philip is very felicitous in his varied bits of Cornish scenery . . being so excellent a seascape as even to bear comparison with the waves of Mr Edwin Hayes, whose Dutch Pinks returning to Katwyke from the Daggerbank, is the original sketch of his Academy work'. This reference to the sketch provides an approximate date of
1876-77 for our painting, assuming that his other painting of the same subject was done at the same time. (S4) The archives of The Spectator (S4), dated 18 August 1877, also mentioned Hayes display of the Dutch Pinks Returning at the Royal Academy, but it is not possible to say which of the two paintings was included in the exhibition. He did another painting of Dutch pinks at sea in 1876 which is held in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. (S5)
A 'pink' is a small ship with a narrow stern, so called because of the Dutch word 'pincke'. They made good fishing vessels because they had a large cargo capacity, while their flat bottoms made them able to navigate in shallow water; they were also relatively fast. They were capable of transatlantic voyages and were used by the English navy in the 18th century. (S6) According to the catalogue description of Cooke’s 1855 painting (see additional sources) in the Royal Museums Greenwich, 'a pink was a small but substantial Dutch fishing vessel rigged with a square mainsail and sometimes with a square foresail on a small mast in the eyes of the boat. They were broad and flat-bottomed to assist stability and beaching'.
Whereas early painters and draughtsmen provide evidence of the structure and rigging of fishing pinks, for example, Abraham Storck’s 1670 painting, Fishing Boats in a Storm off the Dutch Coast at Den Helder (S7), in Hayes’ painting, as in others of the 19th century, the emphasis is not so much on nautical precision but rather on the emotion of the seascape, as in William Edward Cooke’s 1855 painting, A North Sea Breeze on the Dutch Coast. (S8) The billowing sails suggest the powerful wind and the variegated sky and choppy sea suggest a storm in the offing. Yet the painting is not evocative of actual storm conditions but rather with the warm colours and the blue reflected on the wet sand one tends to focus on the spot of blue sky, to which the eye is drawn by the mast and the red pennant. The crowd congregating on the shore, including what appears to be a woman in the foreground, seems to indicate a welcome arrival, either because of new supplies or returning sailors. A master mariner has been unable to identify the signal intended by the flags to the port of the forestay, although together they are likely to connote some request for assistance with anchoring. The burgee on the masthead probably identifies the owner.
A similar treatment by John Wilson Carmichael in 1845, Shipping Offshore in a Stormy Sea (S9), showing storm clouds and blue sky is much more oriented towards the stormy and also shows Hayes’ subtle skill, compared to Carmichael’s, in depicting the sea and sky; the waves and clouds in the latter painting are rather too regular and delineated to be realistic compared to Hayes’s soft waves and blurred clouds. Perhaps Hayes was influenced by Turner’s movement from realism to impressionism in the early 19th century. (S10) His body of work testifies to a great appreciation of colour and light in depicting the variability of sea and cloud.
(S3) http://budapestauction.com/edwin-hayes/painter/dutch-boats-returning-from-sea-katwyke-beach-holland for a view of the ‘sister’ painting
(S10) cf Dutch Boats in a Gale (1801) http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/upload/img/turner-dutch-boats-gale-bridgewater-sea-piece-L297-fm.jpg
with Lifeboat and Manby Apparatus. . . (1831) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/00454/3102214a-21e7-11e3-_454809b.jpg
More information about this artwork and artist
"It is interesting that the word “Katwyke” was absent in the (Edith Booth's) Will but that Stephen Sartin recorded it in his 2001 catalogue. If I read my 2009 notes correctly the title on the frame is “Dutch Pinks Return from Sea” (no “the”) and underneath KATWYKE in capital letters. SS records the title in a similar way. This is all particularly interesting to me as in the “Royal Academy Pictures, 1901” (i.e. the book of the main exhibits in the Summer Exhibition that year) there is a black and white reproduction of Hayes’ “Katwyke Beach: Stormy Sunset, Dutch Boats Returning from Sea”; again no “the”. Its size is 40 x 54ins and our picture is 40 x 53ins so I have long wondered whether it is a pendant to our picture."