PIETER CORNELIS DOMMERSEN (Utrecht 1834 – after 1913)
A View of Ghent with Sint-Michielskerk in the Distance
signed P.C. Dommersen and dated 1903 in the lower left, stamped on the reverse with the artist’s seal with the initials PCD, and inscribed on the reverse Ghent, Belgium
oil on a mahogany panel
20 ¼ x 15 5/8 inches (51.2 x 39.7 cm.)
Private Collection, Florida, circa 1970 until the present time
Pieter Cornelis Dommersen was a painter who specialized in cityscapes, seascapes and coastal landscapes. His brother Cornelis Christiaan as well as his son William Raymond executed similar scenes. In 1850 Pieter was recorded as working in Amsterdam, where he remained until about 1861. From 1853 – 1882 he regularly exhibited at shows of modern art in The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Around 1861, probably accompanied by Cornelis and William, he moved to England. From 1865 – 1878 Pieter showed paintings at the Royal Academy, British Institution, and Suffolk Street Galleries as well as other exhibitions in London. In all likelihood it is at this point that the Anglicized versions of his name were employed. From about 1877 – 1882 Dommersen lived in Brussels. He also traveled quite extensively throughout Europe on painting expeditions accompanied by his son William. In England his paintings are in the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery; Northampton Museum and Art Gallery; and Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth. The National Scheepvaartmuseum in Antwerp also has a work in their collection.
A view of a canal in Ghent is glimpsed under gloriously sunny skies in this lively panel. The canal, lined with seventeenth century houses, is clogged with shipping of various sizes. A walking bridge dotted with pedestrians bisects the panel with a view of Sint-Michielskerk in the distance completing the scene. Dommersen was renowned for his talent of rendering the effects of light, shade and depth. In this panel such facility is showcased by the bathing of the right side of the composition in sunlight while shadowing the left in order to direct the viewer’s eye down the length of the canal to the alternating play of light and shadow that dramatically encase the background. By cloaking Sint-Michielskerk in shadow its soaring monumentality is further emphasized. The scene of daily activity is enlivened by a series of charming details and vignettes. In the foreground three fishermen are hauling their net into a boat filled and surrounded by wicker baskets. On the left side of the foreground a small rowboat passes by the stern of a sailboat from which a member of the crew calls out a greeting. This action is observed by another boatman in the prow of an adjoining ship topped by a whimsical masthead of a roman soldier. In the center of the bridge in the middle distance a couple courts while a group to the right converse with a standing figure in a boat passing beneath. A sailboat glides on the waters beyond the bridge. In a sky filled with pink-tipped clouds a flock of birds start their ascent. Throughout the scene an overall feeling of peace and tranquility preside.
We would like to thank Charles Dumas of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague for his assistance in the preparation of this entry.
Alternative spellings of the artist’s name appear on various works: P.C. Dommershuijzen, P.C. Dommershuizen, P.C. Dommelshuizen, P.C. Dommershuyzen, P.C. Dommersen and P.C. Dommerson.
 Biographical information taken from Denys Brook-Hart, British Nineteenth Century Marine Painting, Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1978, pp. 72 – 73; Pieter A Scheen, “Pieter Cornelis Dommershuijzen” in Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldande Kunstenaars 1750 – 1880, Uitgeverij Pieter A. Scheen BV, ‘s-Gravenhage, 1981, p. 120; Dorothy E. R. Brewington, “Pieter Cornelis Dommersen” in Dictionary of Marine Artists, Mystic Seaport Museum, Incorporated, 1982, p. 114; and E. H. H. Archibald, “Pieter Cornelis Dommersen” in The Dictionary of Sea Painters of Europe and America, Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd., Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2000, p. 148.
 Denys Brook-Hart, op. cit., p. 73.