De Wind is Op graphic for title
Climate, Culture and Innovation in Dutch Maritime Painting

Exhibition Dates: July 2, 2019 – October 1, 2020
Wattles Family Gallery

De Wind is OP! ONLINE CATALOG (41 page pdf)


De Wind is OP! explored our extraordinary collections of Golden Age Dutch and Flemish paintings through a fresh lens. These works interpret around the themes of wind, climate and sea as the drivers behind a uniquely Dutch national identity represented in maritime works of art of this period. Dutch artists arguably invented seascape painting, and were the first to specialize in this genre. Their influence reverberates in all that followed, from the work of J.M.W. Turner to Winslow Homer to New Bedford artists William Bradford and Albert Pinkham Ryder. The exhibition included up to 50 paintings, prints, and other related artifacts drawn from the Museum’s Dutch collections, one of the largest and important of this genre outside of the Netherlands. There was also a complementary exhibition in the fall of 2019 of European and American prints, paintings, and charts related to wind and climate themes.

The sea and seafaring shaped the Dutch collective identity. They were a political entity without precedence, and the art world followed the new cultural and societal models unique to the newly formed Dutch Republic. The Dutch were a dominant superpower in all things maritime, including worldwide trade, military strength, and whaling. They were a world emporium, trading timber, grain, salt, cloth, and luxury materials throughout the global waterways. This was a time of great artistic production to keep up with a high demand for collecting, when a baker was as likely to have fine artwork in his home as a banker. Popular taste was for greatly refined compositions, exquisiteness of detail, and plausible reality. Dutch openness to innovation allowed them to manipulate their own watery landscapes with dams and wind power and to design ship modifications that maximized successful access to the Northern seas and the dramatic fluctuating climate during the Little Ice Age. Vulnerability to tidal deluge and to tempests at sea carried moral and nationalistic themes in paintings from this era. These themes and others were the foundation of the exhibition.


The wind lashes the beach, howls fiercely where I stand,
And blows into my face a very sea of sand.
The tide seethes and foams, and gusts of hail are urging
Shoreward the pelted waves, billowing, splashing, surging
So that the brine exceeds all marks and leaves the dune
Hardly sufficient height to rise above the spume.

– Hendrik Snakenburg (Leiden, 1674 – 1750)



Dr. Christina Connett Brophy
The Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Chair for the Chief Curator

Dr. Roger Mandle
Co-Founder of Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA); Former Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Art; and former President of the Rhode Island School of Design



This exhibition was timed to coincide with the inaugural Summer Winds 2019 run by the New Bedford group Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA), a creative and educational city-wide platform for discussion and exploration of wind energy. Multiple partners in the cultural sector contributed programs, exhibitions, and educational events to this initiative throughout the summer. De Wind is Op! was a major contribution to the Summer Winds project and served as a cornerstone of summer programming events. The Museum also partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Harvard Art Museums, and the Dutch Culture USA Program of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to collaborate on a major symposium in fall 2019 to examine Dutch maritime artwork in accordance with the major exhibition themes.


Exhibition Review
The Burlington Magazine
De Wind is Op!: Climate, Culture and Innovation in Dutch Maritime Painting (pdf)
February 2020

October 18, 2019  A companion symposium was held at the Museum. Learn more


Top Banner Caption: (detail) Johanes de Blaauw (1712-1778). Whaleship D’Vergulde Walvis (“The Golden Whale”) passing the tollhouse at Buiksloot ib tge IJ River, north of Amsterdam, 1759. Oil on canvas, 21.5 x 27 inches.


Exhibition Sponsors

Susan Sweetser Brenninkmeyer & Hans Brenninkmeyer

Kenneth T. & Mildred S. Gammons Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Cynthia & Douglas Crocker II
Carol M. Taylor & John H. Deknatel
The Howard Bayne Fund
Gurdon B. & Kathy Wattles

Tally & John N. Garfield, Jr.
Martha and Bernard A.G. Taradash
Sigrid & Ladd Thorne
Capt. & Mrs. Robert G. Walker

Boston Marine Society
Katherine Mierzwa & Michael Gerstein