The Wallace Collection

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A Coast Scene with Classical Ruins
  • Jan Baptist Weenix (1621 - 1660)
  • A Coast Scene with Classical Ruins
  • Netherlands
  • 1649
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 82 x 107.5 cm
  • Signature: 'Gio: Batta / Weenix / an.1649 / 16 / Sep[tembris]'
  • P117
  • East Galleries III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Jan Baptist Weenix led the way in developing the harbour scene as a pictorial genre in the Netherlands. He probably inspired his cousin Nicolaes Berchem in his depictions of the subject (see P25).

    Born in Amsterdam, Weenix left for Rome in 1642, where he stayed for four years, becoming a member of the Netherlandish artists’ society, the Schildersbent. He worked for Prince Camillo Pamphilj and for the Prince’s uncle, Giovanni Battista Pamphilj, Pope Innocent X, in honour of whom he seems by 1647 to have adopted the signature Gio[vanni] Batt[ist]a Weenix. When he returned to the Netherlands, his pictures continued to show an overt Italian influence in their fanciful combination of sunlit antique ruins and classical sculpture. His style is fluid, with refined brushwork and a colourful, warm palette.

    This coast scene is considered to be his masterpiece. An Italianate setting is suggested by Corinthian columns, a porphyry tomb (copied from one which then stood before the Pantheon in Rome) and a pyramid, evoking the tomb of Cestius near the Porta Ostiensis, Rome. The motif of the couple dallying before antique ruins may be intended to warn the viewer that love does not last for ever.
    Acquired by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in 1843.