PIETER ARNOUT DIJXHOORN (Rotterdam 1810 – Groningen 1839)
Ships at Sea in a Stiff Wind
signed and dated P.A. Dijxhoorn F 1838 in the lower left
oil on panel
19 ½ x 24 ½ inches (49.8 x 62.7 cm.)
Private Collection, The Netherlands
Pieter Arnout Dijxhoorn was a student of Martinus Schouman and Johannes Christiaan Schotel. He was known for marine subjects as well as river views. From 1832 – 1838 he exhibited at contemporary art exhibitions in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. Pieter A. Scheen in his monumental dictionary Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunsternaars 1750 – 1880 remarking on the quality of Dijxhoorn’s work stated “het is daarom zeer te betreuren dat deze begaafde schilder 20 vroeg gestorven is”, (it is therefore very regrettable that this talented painted died so young).  Works by the artist formed part of the permanent collections of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels, and the Maritime Museum, Rotterdam. Remarkably given the brevity of Dijxhoorn’s career, he is in basically every important artist dictionary that covers the period, which included besides Scheen, the works of Emmanuel Benezit, Michael Bryan, H. van Hall, J. Immerzeel, Huib Luns, G.H. Marius, A. Plasschaert, Adolphe Siret, Thieme-Becker, and Alfred von Wurzbach among others. The dramatic quality of such a work as Ships at Sea in a Stiff Wind provides the explanation.
In this panel two sailing vessels and a skiff ride upon a sea of spiky waves under tempestuous skies that loom overhead. The artist employed a low vantage point which enabled him to silhouette the sailboats against a sky which makes up three-quarters of the composition. A small respite of sunlight breaks through the gathering storm clouds to illuminate a pathway upon the agitated waves. The boundaries of the scene feel endless and that is exactly Dijxhoorn’s intent. Beautifully rendered, the primacy of nature is on full display, full adherence, to the tenets of Romanticism, the guiding doctrine of the period.
 Biographical information taken from Pieter A. Scheen, “Pieter Arnout Dijxhoorn” in Lexikon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunstenaars 1750 – 1880, Uitgevij Pieter A. Scheen BV’s – Gravenhage, 1981, p. 131.