In Cooke's Leger (R.A. Library) the title is given as Zuider Zee fishing craft drying nets and sails in the Harbour of Spaarendam and it property belongs to a group of pictures from the artist's earliest painting tours in Holland, 1837 and 1838. Spaarndam on the River Ij near Amsterdam gave calm subjects which were a good contrast to his breezy Scheveningen shore scenes.
The Dutch boats on the Ij near Spaarndam (12 x 18in.) shown at the British Institution in 1838 (No. 201) was the first example and there was a large canvas (41 x 48in.) with the same title, exhibited at the R.A. in the same year, (No. 562) bought by Lord Northwick who was incidentally a Director of the Institution.
Cooke painted a later version which he sent to the Liverpool exhibition in 1849 (No. 52) and this is evidently the present picture. It did not sell there but was bought by Sigmund Rücker - a Wandsworth orchid-grower with a pictuer collection, who was a friend of Cooke's.
In Agnew's photo-archive there is a nice sepia print of this painting dating from 1933. It is an important photo as it shows the canvas before damage and reveals that the date was originally painted under his signature, not alongside it. Further, it was dated 1849, not '47.
We are grateful to John Munday for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.