The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Ferry Boat
  • Nicolaes Berchem (1620 - 1683)
  • The Ferry Boat
  • Netherlands
  • 167[2 or 5]
  • Painting
  • Oil on mahogany panel
  • Image size: 34 x 38.3 cm
  • Signature: 'Berchem 167[2 or 5]'
  • P183
  • East Galleries III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This painting is a beautiful example of Nicolas Berchem’s evocative and highly atmospheric landscape paintings of the remarkable countryside between Rome and Naples. A group of peasants stop to rest as they load their livestock onto a small boat; a brightly dressed woman milks a goat while another, mounted on a horse, gestures languidly towards the ferry boat. All the details of the painting convey a sense of yearning for the beauty and warmth of Italy, and the slow rhythms of rural life. The body of water they prepare to cross is surrounded by large wooded outcrops forming a strong diagonal line leading towards woodland and mountains. The whole scene is suffused with mellow southern light.
    The Ferry Boat, painted on a rare Mahogany support, was the first work by the artist to be acquired by the founders of the Wallace Collection. It was purchased in 1804 by the great connoisseur of Dutch painting, the 3rd Marquess of Hertford, who advised the Prince Regent, future George IV on his purchases of Dutch Golden Age paintings. The painting must have appealed greatly to Lord Hertford’s son, the 4th Marquess of Hertford, who fifty years later added a further six paintings by Berchem to the collection. Our collection of works by the artist is now arguably the most important in the United Kingdom after the Royal Collection.