Laureys a Castro, A Storm at Sea, 1685
13 x 20.5 in.
Laureys a Castro (or Lorenzo de Castro) was a Flemish painter of seascapes. His exact dates are unknown but he was first active in Antwerp around 1665 and died around 1700. Another Flemish marine painter, Sebastian Castro, is assumed to be his father; Laureys is recorded as the son of a master in the records of the Guild of St. Luke (the painters' guild). The family was of Portuguese descent and likely moved to Antwerp to escape the persecution of Jews during the Portuguese Inquisition. Based on his subjects, it seems clear that Laureys traveled around Europe and studied different ports. Although he was also a portrait painter, Castro is best known for his depiction of ships at sea and in port. He is particularly known for his work during his time in England. His best known works depict naval battles such as the Battle of Actium. A Storm at Sea is a more dramatic painting than many of Castro's works. The entire painting is composed to instill the terror of the storm. Firstly, the whole scene is portrayed on an angle: along with the tilting ship there is a tilted horizon, which gives the viewer the sense of being on a careening deck. The rolling clouds and churning ocean successfully convey the winds and waves of the storm. Notice also the port that appears on the right of the canvas. The four ships we see (one is near the middle in the deep background, barely visible against the sky) are all so near a safe port in the storm, but in the moment that Castro chose to depict, it is unclear whether they will make it to safety before the storm swallows them.