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Shipbuilding at Porto Santo Stefano, Italy
1644
Reinier Nooms

Shipbuilding at Porto Santo Stefano, Italy  1644 Reinier Nooms

In this meticulous and highly detailed representation composition, the well-documented description of shipbuilding forms the principal subject. To the right, a small craft is waiting for repair, probably to the mast. To the left, a ship is under construction on the stocks. A green branch has been placed high at the stern in continuance of an ancient shipbuilding tradition, apparently for good fortune and celebration once the full height of the vessel's frame was complete.

Men in the yard are occupied using a variety of skills, such as planing, sawing and hammering nails. In the foreground the artist has created a still life from the various tools and equipment used in shipbuilding, including an open tool box, saw, hammer, measure, ropes, brace and a wooden shovel. A pot is positioned on top of a fire, possibly heating pitch, with a stirring stick in it. One man reclines on some planks of wood on the far right, smoking his pipe as he converses with another workman standing to the right, facing the sea.

A small coastal village is visible on a headland in the distance to the right. Nooms had a working knowledge of ships, and his shipbuilding scenes demonstrate an unerring eye for both the lines of ships and the minutiae of rigging and tackle. They also represent an important contribution to the accurate documentation of Dutch shipping. Known as Zeeman, Nooms was born and died in Amsterdam. As his name suggests, he spent his early life at sea. He painted in the Dutch realist style with
a lively palette. The artist has placed his monogram 'R N' on the pot.

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