click detail for account of this inscription


F.B.Cockett's Early Sea Painters, 1995, contains much valuable biographical information about Sailmaker, almost all of it apparently researched by Mrs Judith Aldrick. This provides a very reasonable starting-point for anyone interested in beginning to understand the work of a painter whose life spanned 88 years, maybe as many as 70 of them spent in England. George Vertue is quoted, p.22:

This little man employed himself always in painting views, small and great, many sea-ports and ships about England ..... He was a constant labourer ..... tho' not very excellent. His contemporaries the Van de Veldes were too mighty for him ..... but he outlived them and painted to his last.

These pages glance at Sailmaker's application to the many seaports and ships about England, and highlight the significance of the prints after his depictions. The astonishing appearance of his name under a print view of the Petersenska Huset, in the centre of Stockholm's old town, shown above, is discussed here. Other pages may, optimistically, in due course attempt to further unravel the distinctive traits of Sailmaker's painting style, and separate his identity from other contemporary marine painters, English and Dutch. The works of Sailmaker are a large, difficult and complicated subject of study, not least because of his exceptional longevity. I do not expect to get on top of it in a hurry, if ever. It takes half a lifetime to begin to understand these disgracefully neglected marine painters, who were once the very soul and spirit of the English nation. Pictures may be added here as and when I come across them, and if they seem to be of interest. As more information comes to light doubts about many of the attributions increase.


His name excites comment. According to Mrs Aldrick's findings, it appears that the "original family name was Zeilmaker". Without fuller details of his parentage it nevertheless seems reasonable to suppose that he started life actually employed as a sailmaker, and then took to daubing canvas, instead of shaping it.

Very many, in fact most, Dutch artists were unable to live on painting alone, and had a day-job which supported them.

Saylmaker del. Panorama of the Downs. Engraving by Kip, or Kyp.

Saylmaker del. Panorama of Portsmouth. Engraving by Kip, or Kyp, later colouring.

See here.

Engraved by Kip: a distinct look of Sailmaker about it.
There is at least one extant totally non-marine landscape by Sailmaker.

the flag was important to sailmaker, and no mistake

Gravesend, "the last town of the River of Thams," where all London vessels departed for all parts of the globe.
Gravesend was "a right name as every body of Sailors knows," it being where "many Never return again."
Quoted from Ramblin' Jack: The Journal of Captain John Cremer, (edition 1936), by Marcus Rediker,
in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, 1987, p.31.

a view of gravesend in the county of kent: later 18th century print
See here.

sailmaker & stockholm
jacob knyff
sheerness      portchester ?

sailmaker 1       sailmaker 2       sailmaker 3       sailmaker 4
sailmaker lighthouses      sailmaker britannia      sailmaker barbados
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