This immaculately preserved panel is one of the finest examples of Abraham Storck’s Mediterranean capricci. The scene is an idealized and imagined Italian view, full of lavish architecture and picturesque detail. Storck’s exquisite palette of pinks, reds, mouse-browns and grey-blues infuse the painting with a richness which complements the exoticism of the scene. The scudding clouds and flickering flags further add to the sense of airiness and bustle. Beyond, the majestic and meticulously delineated Dutch warships remind us that Holland’s prosperity was built on their mastery of the seas.
A steady trade had emerged between the northern countries and Italy during the 17th century, and although Storck is not thought to have visited Italy, scenes such as this would have been experienced at first hand by fellow Dutch artists such as Jan Asselijn and Jan Weenix, who reflected their experience of Italy in their paintings.
Storck’s capprici can be considered as precursors of the great vedute of 18th century Italy, the greatest exponent of which was Canaletto.
A NOTE ON THE PROVENANCE:
Dimitri Mavrommatis, a Greek financier and connoisseur, amassed an important collection of old master and modern paintings from the early 1990’s onwards, together with a collection of Sèvres porcelain that is now one of the finest in the world. His collection of old masters included important works by Brueghel, Canaletto, Guardi and Ruysdael, as well as the present painting.
BIOGRAPHY OF ABRAHAM STORCK
Abraham Storck was one of the leading Dutch marine painters of the seventeenth century, and the most acclaimed member of a family of painters which included his two brothers and his father, Jan Jansz. Storck. Abraham may have trained with his father before entering Amsterdam’s Guild of Saint Luke. Storck also absorbed artistic influences from other specialists in maritime paintings such as Willem van de Velde the Younger, and also Ludolf Backhuyzen from whom he emulated the use of luminous glazes and a rich, saturated palette.
Storck is chiefly remembered for his marine paintings and Mediterranean capricci. He also painted many of the popular festivals, such as the mock battle staged on the Ij in honour of Czar Peter the Great’s visit to Amsterdam in 1697. Storck sometimes added figures to the landscapes of Frederick de Moucheron and Meindert Hobbema; he also painted a small number of winter landscapes. Storck was born in Amsterdam and spent most of his life in his native city.
The work of Abraham Storck is represented in numerous museums including the Fitzwilliam Museum, the National Gallery (London), the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich) and the Rijksmuseum.
i) For other Storck capprici of comparable quality and composition, see the pair sold at Christies, London, July 7th 2000, lot 20, (£443,750 to Richard Green).