The biography of Ludolf Backhuysen (1631 - 1708)

Ludolf Backhuysen was a Dutch painter, born in Emden, Hanover, Germany. His last name was also spelled as Bakhuysen, Bakhuizen or Backhuyzen. There appears two dates as his birth dates: 28-th of December 1630 or 18-th December 1631.

His family moved to Amsterdam in 1649. He started his career as a bookkeeper and also he had been a member of Kalligraphie, because of his beautiful hand writing.

Backhuysen studied under the Dutch painters Allart van Everdingen (1621-1675) and then under Hendrik Dubbels (c. 1620-1676), two eminent masters of the time, and soon became celebrated for his sea-pieces. His canvases are usually large, and often depict stormy scenes. His lighting and color schemes are typically more dramatic than those of his contemporary Willem van de Velde the Younger. He frequently exposed himself on the sea in an open boat in order to study the effects of storms. His numerous compositions are, nearly all, variations of one subject: the sea and variations of marine themes, in a style peculiarly his own, marked by intense realism. I n late 1672 or early 1673, Ludolf Backhuysen was the leading seascape painter of the Netherlands, after Willem van de Velde (c. 1611-1693) and his son Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707) immigrated to England.

Some works of Backhuysen and Willem the Younger, painted in 1670s, are rather similar and have on occasion been confused. It is not clear if one artist influenced the other at this time, or if their stylistic convergence was largely coincidental.

Backhuysen had an influence on Abraham Storck (1644-after 1704) and also had a number of pupils, including: Hendrick and Jan Claesz, Rietschoof, Michiel Maddersteg, Jan Dubbels, Pieter Coopse and Anthonie Rutgers.

He had a very famous clientele – some of European rulers. Among them Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, the king of Prussia, the elector of Saxony, and the grand duke of Tuscany . H is works continued to be extremely popular with leading collectors throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, after about 1850, his reputation began to wane, and only recently has he once more come to be considered a leading master of Dutch marine painting.

Backhuysen painted some portraits, allegorical compositions, and townscapes, and was an active engraver.

After a long illness he died in Amsterdam where he was buried in the Westerkerk on 17 November 1708.