Pieter Bruegel, the Elder: A Storm in the River Schelde

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525–1569)
A Storm in the River Schelde with a View of Antwerp
c. 1559
Pen and brown ink
Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Samuel Courtauld Trust (Princes Gate Collection), 1981

Nearly two-thirds of this stormy marine view is devoted to rows of frenetic waves. The variety of strokes, ranging from dashes and squiggles to long, straight lines, is typical of Bruegel's nuanced use of the pen. The distant city stretching along the horizon is very likely Antwerp. The diminutive island surmounted by gallows at upper left is probably imaginary.