LIEVE VERSCHUIER (Rotterdam 1627 – Rotterdam 1686)
Shipping in Moonlight
signed in the lower left L. Verschuier
oil on canvas
19 x 26 inches (48 x 66 cm.)
Helen Laura Pearson, Craigsends, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Alexander Cunningham, 16. Lairds of Craigsends
Baillie McLellan, Glasgow
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, April 9, 1965, lot 160 where purchased by
Richard Green, London
Herbert Giaradet, Kettwig (1910 – 1972) at least by 1969 and thus by descent, from whom acquired by
Charles Roelofsz, Amsterdam where bought by
Private Collection, New York, 1984 until the present time
Cologne, Wallraff – Richartz Museum, Saamlung Herbert Giaradet Holländische und Flämische Meister, January 24 – March 30, 1970, no. 61 and traveling to Museum Boymans – van Beuningen, Rotterdam, April 24 – June 7, 1970
Horst Vey, Saamlung Herbert Giaradet Holländische und Flämische Meister, exhibition catalog, Cologne, Wallraff – Richartz Museum, 1970, p. 14, catalog no. 61, illustrated
George S. Keyes, “Lieve Pietersz. Verschuier” in Mirror of Empire, Dutch Marine Art of the Seventeenth Century, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1990, p. 182, fn. 2
Lieve Verschuier, born in Rotterdam in 1627, was the son of Pieter Verschuier, a sculptor and carver who worked for the Admiralty of Rotterdam. From 1651–1652 he resided in Amsterdam, and perhaps during this period studied with Simon de Vlieger. Afterward, he traveled to Italy with Johan van der Meer, the portraitist from Utrecht. While residing in Rome from 1653–1656, he became strongly influenced by the use of light and atmospheric effects of Claude Lorrain. By 1656, Verschuier had returned to Rotterdam and married Catharina Akershoek. On October 25, 1674, he was appointed sculptor and painter to the Admiralty of the Maas in Rotterdam. Sadly, none of his sculptures survived. By 1678, he was named Dean of the Guild of St. Luke.
There are approximately 75 paintings known by the artist, with only one dated from 1661. His works formed part of the permanent collections in the museums of Amsterdam; Budapest; Greenwich, England; Hamburg; Lisbon; Munich; Northampton, England; Paris; Philadelphia; Rome; Rotterdam; Strasbourg; Vienna; and Warsaw.
Verschuier’s works fall into three categories. He executed several historical events, such as the Arrival of Charles II of England in Rotterdam, now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. He also painted large harbor scenes, typically with cargo ships docked at piers or jetties. But what constituted his most popular works were smaller coastal views at sunset or by moonlight. As evidenced by this painting, all the drama typically takes place in the skies over still waters, scenes Keyes described as “poetic and visionary.”
In this seascape, ships line a coast beneath a rising moon. The moon’s brightness illuminates the surrounding clouds in a spectacular fashion, with its reflection captured upon the gently rippling waters below. Also emanating from this orb is a golden shaft of light used to guide the viewer’s eye through the scene. Glittering past an incoming vessel partially enveloped by arresting clouds to the right, serenely balanced by two docked boats with lowered sails on the left, the rays culminate alongside a small docked boat filled with seamen and cargo in the foreground. The drama of the composition is further enhanced by the use of a low vantage point, which places the viewer almost within its confines, and demonstrates the technical mastery of the painter. Monumentality is achieved within the parameters of the canvas by the sheer force of the contrasting imagery bathed in the illumination of optical artistry. Such achievements served to set Verschuier apart from his contemporaries and make his work unforgettable.
 Biographical information taken from George S. Keyes, op. cit., p. 423; “Lieve Verschuier” in The Kremer Collection (electronic resource), Fondation Aetas Aureau, Netherlands, c. 2014; and “Lieve Verschuier” on rkd.nl (RKD Explore) website.
 The Kremer Collection, op. cit.
 George S. Keyes, op. cit., p. 423.