Abraham Storck was a Dutch landscape and maritime painter. Like his father and three brothers, all artists, he used the name Sturckenburch and only changed it to Storck around 1688. He trained and worked with his father and became a member of the Guild of St Luke in Amsterdam. In 1694 he married Neeltje Pieters van Meyservelt, a surgeon’s widow. His river and coastal scenes were greatly influenced by Ludolf Bakhuizen in the pictorial treatment of sky and water.Abraham also absorbed influences from other well-known Amsterdam marine painters, notably Willem van de Velde the younger and Jan Abrahamsz. Beerstraten. The Beerstraten and Storck families were close friends and distantly related by marriage. In his paintings of sea battles Abraham emulated Jan Beerstraten’s somewhat crowded and agitated compositions. His stylistic dependence on the older artist is demonstrated by a comparison of Beerstraten’s Battle of Terheide, 10 August 1653 (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) with Storck’s Four-day Battle between the Dutch and English Fleets, 12–14 June 1666. (London, National Maritime Museum)
Storck’s occasional winter scenes (e.g. Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum; Rotterdam, Museum Boymans–van Beuningen) also follow the example of Jan Beerstraten and his brother Anthonie, who specialized in the genre. The van de Veldes, father and son, may have inspired Storck’s accuracy in the rendering of ships’ rigging and technical details, which is admired by ship historians. A few paintings are devoted to the activities of the Dutch whaling fleets in northern waters (e.g. Rotterdam, Maritime Museum; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, A 4102), but his most attractive and popular paintings are the views of harbour cities and river scenes. Most of these topographical views are of Dutch subjects, but some feature German cities and scenery along the Rhine, suggesting that the artist must have travelled to Germany. The Dutch harbour and river views often depict the recreational and ceremonial aspects of shipping, with an emphasis on colourful pleasure yachts occupied by passengers in festive dress (e.g. Shipping on the IJ at Amsterdam, London, National Maritime Museum). The most famous of the marine festivities depicted by Storck is the Mock Battle Staged for Peter the Great on the River IJ (Amsterdam, Ned. Hist. Scheepvaartsmuseum), which commemorates the spectacle arranged in honour of the visit of the Tsar to Holland in 1697. Like other popular works by Storck, such pictures of ceremonial gatherings of ships, known as marine ‘parades’, were repeated in several versions.
The emphasis on spectators and passengers in the marine ‘parades’ and in scenes of commercial and pleasure shipping gave Storck an opportunity to exercise his considerable skill in rendering the human figure, a skill that many other marine painters lacked. The careful characterization of figures and attention to details of costume are also noticeable in Storck’s Italianate architectural views with staffage. Storck shared his interest in this genre with Jan Beerstraten and Jan Baptist Weenix, among others. Storck’s views of Italian and Mediterranean ports are sometimes ‘realistic’, and he has been described as one of the precursors of the veduta. He must have travelled to Italy, but this has never been proved. Most of the artist’s southern views are architectural fantasies , the decorative artificiality of which is emphasized by the postcard-blue Mediterranean skies and water rendered as strips of tiny, silvery waves. These scenes also anticipate the popular 18th-century Italian capriccio.
Storck’s reputation has suffered from the very popularity of his paintings during his lifetime and beyond. His large workshop turned out many replicas of popular compositions, and copyists and imitators abounded. This accounts for the uneven quality of paintings attributed to Storck, which, though frequently bearing his signature, are not painted by him. Storck’s best work is comparable with that of Bakhuizen and Willem van de Velde the younger. Storck was an excellent draughtsman, and drawings are preserved in several museums. He also produced at least six etchings of various subjects.
Storck is represented in the following collections: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum Boymans–van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem; The Louvre, Paris; National Gallery, London; Courtauld Institute of Art, London; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California; Vancouver Art Gallery, British Columbia, amongst others.