On the Zandvoort beach fishermen are unloading their catch. Big fresh fish lies on the dune. Women and elder men inspect the catch and talk to the fishermen. The watchtower of Zandvoort is seen onn the dune on the left. A typical Dutch scene which must have been common in the seventeenth century since fishing partly helped the economic prosperity in these days.
In the seventeenth century a religious interpretation may well have been derived from this picture since the rich catch of fish and the save return of the fishing boats represent ‘an image of God’s reward to those folk living by the sea.’
De Vlieger was probably born in Rotterdam around 1600. Nothing is known about his teachers but the influence of Jan Porcellis who worked periodically in this town between 1605 and 1615, is seen in his early works.
De Vlieger developed in a leading marine painter in Holland producing not only oil paintings but also a large body of drawings and etchings. He lived and worked in Rotterdam, Delft, Amsterdam and Weesp. The painter Jan van de Capelle possessed some 1300 drawings and nine paintings of the Vlieger.
During the 1630s, Simon de Vlieger developed a monochrome style that derived from Jan Porcellis.
New in his work is the compositional method using diagonals. De Vlieger opens up the composition by stressing the open foreground with vistas to the far distance framed by ships. De Vlieger introduced piers and jetties as coulisses in a number of paintings from the 1640s. These composing experiments had a tremendous impact on younger marine artists as Jan van de Capelle, Hendrick Dubbels and Willem van de Velde the Younger who studied at his atelier in Weesp.
This beachscene is datable in the mid 1640’s.