The present lot is either a preliminary design for or a replica after the oil picture, dated 1834, now in the Stichting Historisch Verzamelingen van het Huis Oranje-Nassau, The Hague. Another later version on panel, is in the Amsterdams Historisch Museum (inv.no.A4958), part of "de Historische Galerij van Jacob de Vos Jacobszoon". Admiral Michiel de Ruijter was fatally wounded after being hit by a bullet in the foot, during a naval battle near the Etna on April 22, 1676. The battle in question was fought between a joint Spanish-Dutch armada under De Ruyter's command, and a French fleet under Duquesne. Although the conflict ended in a draw, De Ruyter died a week after the hostilities, a serious blow to the Dutch forces.
This very important chapter in Dutch history was represented by Nicolaas Pieneman with a great sense of drama. The serenity of the dying admiral is violently contrasted with the intense commotion in the background, where a French battle ship is about to ram De Ruyter's flagship. Moreover the artist did not forget the suffering of the common sailors, in the left foreground. (cf lit.: Exhibit. cat. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Het Vaderlandsch Gevoel, 1978, p. 177 and exhibit. cat. Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Helden van het Vaderland; de historische galerij van Jacob de Vos Jacobszoon (1850-1863), edit.D.Cavasso, Amsterdam 1991, no.190, with ill.).
See colour illustration