Whale tale: a Dutch seascape and its lost Leviathan


Earlier this year a conservator at the Hamilton Kerr Institute made a surprising discovery while working on a painting owned by the Fitzwilliam Museum. As Shan Kuang removed the old varnish from the surface, she revealed the whale that had been the intended focus of the scene.

In 1873 the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, was given a number of Dutch landscape paintings by a benefactor called Richard Kerrick. Among these works of art was a beach scene painted by the artist Hendrick van Anthonissen early in the 17th century. Anthonissen depicts groups of people clustered on a sandy beach at the small town of Scheveningen. Other figures stand on the cliffs and, on the shore, several boats have been pulled up on the sand.



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