Fine Art

Abraham Hulk

British, 1816-1882


Oil on panel
9 x 12 5/8 inches (23 x 31.4 cm)
Framed: 15 1/8 x 18 1/2 inches (38.4 x 47 cm)
Signed: A. Hulk


Private Collection, Michigan

Born in London, the senior member, and best known of a family of painters, Abraham Hulk studied in Holland at the Amsterdam Academy under portrait painter Jean Augustin Daiwaille. He is one of the very only foreign-born artists ever to be admitted to this prestigious academy. Early on, he turned from portraits to marine painting.

Hulk is often mistakenly referred to as a Dutch artist due to the strong Dutch influence and conception of his paintings. He is mainly noted for his estuary scenes featuring Dutch barges under full sail. In these paintings, he was considered a master of atmosphere and composition.

In 1833, he sailed on a bark to the New World, landing in Boston. From there he traveled up the Hudson river from New York City to Albany. He returned via Manchester to England in 1834. The artist, upon his return to Holland, settled first in Amsterdam. Hulk specialized in seascapes, sometimes of a choppy or stormy sea, and, at other times, of an entirely flat sea without even a hint of wind. In 1870, he returned to England where he remained until his death.

Our painting is amongst Hulk’s finest works. His paintings always show a great affinity for depicting the atmosphere surrounding the ships. In Seascape, Hulk portrays the traditional seascape in the Romantic style. His skill in combining technical skill and attention to detail is paramount in this work. The boats near the shore are rocked by strong gusts of wind, as waves crash against shore and the boats. Though the boats in the forefront is luckily safely near a shore, one can see a boat further out in the distance perhaps in peril. Though the sky at first glance seems clear and blue with white cottony clouds, one can see the clouds darkening by the horizon to an ominous dark blue in the distance; a squall is approaching. This seascape by Hulk is magnificent and a wonderful example of his masterful skills.