Archive for the ‘Marine paintings’ Category

The life of ships

November 29, 2012

Willem van de Velde the Younger, Dutch vessels close inshore at low tide, and men bathing, 1662. ©The National Gallery, London, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

One of the recently announced allocations of works of art accepted in lieu of tax included two marine paintings by Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707).

Willem van de Velde the Younger, A Dutch yacht surrounded by many small vessels, saluting as two barges pull alongside, 1661. ©The National Gallery, London, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The artist came from a family of Dutch marine painters. Willem the Younger came to England in 1672-3, together with his father, Willem the Elder, in the wake of the turbulence in Holland following the French invasion of 1672.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, A Dutch flagship coming to anchor with a States yacht before a light air, 1658. ©National Maritime Museum, London, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In his earlier work van de Velde specialised in pictures of ships in calm weather, reminiscent of still lifes in being at once beautifully composed and full of detail.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, A States yacht in a fresh breeze running towards a group of Dutch ships, 1673. ©National Maritime Museum, London, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

At the same time the ships appear to be almost alive, like horses or cattle ruminating in a meadow. One can sense the painter’s deep affinity with life on the coast and at sea.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, A Dutch three-master and a boeier in the foreground, her mainsail being lowered in stormy weather, c. 1670. Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax on the estate of the late Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross, and allocated to the National Trust for display at Buckland Abbey. Image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In his later paintings gales, storms and shipwrecks become more common, but again the paintings seem to be simultaneously realistic and poetic.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, Dutch shipping in a heavy swell with a small hoeker under a half-lowered mainsail, and with a school of porpoises in the foreground, c. 1670. Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax on the estate of the late Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych cross and allocated to the National Trust for display at Buckland Abbey. Image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

King Charles II and James, Duke of York commissioned Willem the Younger to produce a series of sea battle paintings following the end of the Anglo-Dutch wars in 1674. Van de Velde father and son were both given studio space in the Queen’s House at Greenwich.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, A Dutch ship and other small vessels in a strong breeze, 1658. ©The National Gallery, London, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Although the two paintings allocated to the National Trust were probably not conceived as a pair they have hung together since the early 19th century. The pictures were probably acquired in Amsterdam by Thomas Hope, the collector and taste-maker, and hung at is mansion The Deepdene in Surrey. Later they were owned by the Edwardian collector Alfred Beit.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, A Mediterranean brigantine drifting onto a rocky coast in a storm, c. 1700. ©National Maritime Museum, London, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The pictures have been allocated to Buckland Abbey, Devon. These and other paintings by Willem van de Velde the Younger can be perused via the Your Paintings/Public Catalogue Foundation site.


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