Velde The Younger, Willem van de

(Leiden 1633 - 1707 Londen)

Beached Ships with Threemasters at Sea in the Background

Pencil and grey wash on paper
13 x 40 cm

€ 9.500,--
Beached Ships with Threemasters at Sea in the Background


Several fishing boats lay moored ashore and a fisherman toils along the catch of the day
to the beach. In the hazy distance scattered men-of-war with reefed sails can be seen at
anchor. It is a sunny day with hardly any wind.

Father and son Van de Velde were among the most prolific draughtsmen of the Dutch
Golden Age. Drawing to them must have been as natural a thing as breathing is to us so
Pliny’s well-known motto ‘nulla dies sine linea’ (not a day without a line) applies to
them in a very literal sense.

Van de Velde the Younger could be so productive because of his singular talent of
conjuring a truthful scene on the beach or at sea with just a few lines of his pencil and a
dash or two with his brush. This drawing is an excellent proof of his consummate skill.
There is no way of telling if the artist made this on the spot or from memory. The latter
is very well possible as closing off a scene on the left or right with breakwaters was a
compositional device already used by the artist’s father in his earliest works which were
carefully composed in the studio. The Dutch flags flying from the ships’ masts suggest
that this drawing dates from prior to Van de Velde’s settling in England in 1672. The
slender hulls of the warships are of a more modern type and communicate a date not too
long before that.

Willem van de Velde the Younger and his father and teacher Willem van de Velde the
Elder are the most famous marine artists of the seventeenth century. Their depictions of
shipping are artistic highpoints while many of these scenes represent events of massive
importance such as episodes of heroic sea-battles and consequently have shaped the
historical image of the Dutch Golden Age as well. Whereas Willem van de Velde the
Younger is primarily known as a painter, both father and son produced a vast body of
drawings. The greatest holding of van de Velde drawings is nowadays in the National
Maritime Museum, Greenwich, while the second largest public collection is kept in the
Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.

Shortly after Willem’s birth the family moved to Amsterdam. He initially trained with
his father but was sent off to Weesp around 1648 to finish his education with Simon de
Vlieger. In 1652 he was back in Amsterdam and married Petronella le Maine but
divorced her only one year later. In 1666 he married his second wife Magdalena
Walraven. By the closing of 1672 Willem and his father had left for England for good,
settling in Greenwich, in the outskirts of London. At first they primarily worked for
King Charles II, who provided them with lodgings in Greenwich and allowed them to
use the Queen’s House as their studio, a handsome building designed by Inigo Jones
and presently part of the Maritime Museum which houses so many outstanding works
by the Van de Veldes. In 1674 a royal warrant stipulated that both artists were to receive
an annual pension of one hundred Pounds while to were also to receive payment for
every painting individually. From the outset, the Van de Veldes also worked for the
king’s brother, the future James II, who continued patronizing them after his brother’s
death in 1685. In 1691 the Van de Veldes settled in Westminster, London, where they
remained until their deaths. They are buried alongside each other in the church of St
James, Piccadilly. Willem the Younger had two sons, Willem III and Cornelis, who also
became marine painters and continued to work in their father’s style. Van de Velde also
had some English followers. Namely Peter Monamy and Robert Woodstock, who
further contributed to Van de Velde’s fame by producing versions and imitations of the

Please contact Mr. Sander Bijl for more information