“Zaandammer Volkschuit voor de wind zeilende” [litterally: folk-boat from Zaandam sailing before the wind] watercolour with pen and washed ink by Joseph Sipkes. Signed and dated in the lower left “J. Sipkes, 1832”. Size approx. 12,3 x 18 cm. (In frame: 29,5 x 34 cm).
A volksschuit or trekschuit [literally “tug-boat”] was a sail- and horse-drawn boat specific to the Netherlands, where it was used for centuries as a means of passenger traffic between cities along trekvaarten, or tow-canals.
By 1700 an extensive network of trekschuit- and ferry services linked all of the important cities in the coastal provinces of the Netherlands. Travel by trekschuit was reliable, comfortable and cheap. The speed was about 7 kilometers per hour, which was faster than walking, and more comfortable than by coach.
The old tow-canal system that were once busy trekschuit routes, became obsolete with the advent of the railway in the mid-19th century, many of which were first built alongside the canals because they were assumed to be the most profitable routes.
Little is known about the marine painter Joseph Sipkes (1787-1852) except that he worked in Amsterdam at the beginning of the 19th century. In addition to a number oil paintings, he made beautiful ship portraits in watercolour.