In spite of its diminished importance by this time, Dordrecht remained the most important port of call for merchants coming down the Lower Rhine, Waal and Meuse, and an important node in the network of intra-regional trade in the Republic until well into the seventeenth century.
It is difficult to give an exact date for our painting. The sophistication of the beautifully balanced composition and the subtleness of the palette however suggest it is a mature production from the 1650s. The calmness and contemplative mood remind of similar works by Zeeman’s peers, Willem van de Velde the Younger and Jan van de Cappelle.
It is unknown with whom Reinier Zeeman trained and he may have been self-taught, but it has been suggested that Willem van de Velde the Elder was his teacher in Amsterdam. Reinier also spent time in Paris in the 1640s and possibly trained there under the guidance of Abraham de Verwer. In April 1653 he married in Amsterdam Maria Moosijn, the sister of the engraver Michael Moosijn, with whom the artist collaborated. Maria bore him two daughters, Neeltje and Liesbeth. In 1661 Zeeman accompanied admiral Michiel de Ruyter on his campaign along the North African coast, as etchings and paintings attest showing the Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian coast.
1 With kind thanks to Mr Ab Hoving, for identifying the shipping and suggesting the location in Zeeman’s scene (email correspondence 27 October 2016).