Velde The Younger, Willem van de

(Leiden 1633 - 1707 Londen)

Threemasters at Anchor

Pencil and grey wash on paper
14 x 22 cm

€ 12.000,--
Threemasters at Anchor

Willem van de Velde the Younger
Leiden 1633 – 1707 London


Threemasters at Anchor


Pencil and grey wash on paper 140 x 218 mm
Signed lower right in pencil: W. v. de Velde


Framing lines in brown ink.


Datable 1660-72

E. Calando, Paris, second half nineteenth century (his mark – Lugt 837 – ‘E.C.’ lower left on recto)
Sale Haarlem (Bubb Kuyper), 23 May 2014, lot 5634
Private collection


A group of large vessels, primarily threemasters, lay anchored on the quiet, rippling
water. The lack of detail prevents us to identify them as East-Indiamen or warships.
Their captains are being rowed in several sloops to, presumably, the admiral’s ship to
convene for deliberation. The foreground is entirely taken up by empty water. A
powerful feeling of depth is called up by the low horizon which makes the watery
expanse recede sharply into the distance. The two nearest ships appear as dark
silhouettes while bright sunlight illuminates the hulls of the vessels farther away,
creating a dramatic atmospheric effect.

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.

The artist could have made this on the spot, sitting in a boat, although it is believed that
Van de Velde de Younger, unlike his father, hardly ventured onto the open water until
very late in in his career, when his father had died. So perhaps he made this drawing
standing on the shore, a spit of land or from memory. 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.

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