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Mauritz Frederik Hendrick de Haas - Sunset off the Needles

Mauritz Frederik Hendrick de Haas (1832-1895), Dutch-American
Sunset off the Needles, 1870
OIL ON CANVAS, 27 x 45 inches
Gift of Mrs. Theodora Willard Best

Mauritz de Haas' portrayal of a single ship navigating past a rocky coastline just as the sun sets reminds the viewer of the perils that accompanied life at sea during the nineteenth century. De Haas was keenly aware of those risks, having served as a painter first to the Dutch Navy during the 18505 and later for the American Navy during the Civil War after he immigrated to the United States in 1859. By 1870, when de Haas painted Sunset off the Needles, steamboats had largely surpassed sailboats as the fastest means of shipping goods, and this sunset scene may be a metaphor for the twilight of the heroic age of sail. The rocks shown in Sunset off the Needles loosely resemble a well-known formation of that name along the coast of the British Isle of Wight, located in the English Channel. The precise location shown in de Haas' work, however, is unknown.