Calm: a Dutch flagship coming to anchor c.1658
This painting was purchased for the collections of the National Maritime Museum with the assistance of the Society in 1964 from the executors of the estate of Sir Bruce Ingram, (d. 1963).
Ingram, a publishing entrepreneur and philanthropist, and also an Honorary Vice-President of the Society for Nautical Research was a great benefactor of the National Maritime Museum and left a large number of Van de Velde drawings to the museum in his will. His family also agreed the private sale of two further paintings, previously on long loan displayed in the Ingram Room in the Queen’s House, including this one. The other painting purchased for the Museum has already been featured in our Maritime Art Archive here.
This painting is an early example of the Younger Van de Velde’s work, painted before he had developed his own artistic style of ship portrayal. A Dutch flagship is coming to anchor, in calm water, off the Netherlandish coast. In the left foreground is a States yacht, in starboard-quarter view, running towards the flagship under a white sprit-sail and a brown square sail boomed out to port. She is thought to be the yacht laid down for Prince Frederik Hendrik but completed after his death in 1647 for Willem II.
To the right a large ship is under way firing a forward gun to starboard. This is probably the Eendracht, 76 guns, built in 1653, the flagship of Lieutenant-Admiral J. van Wassenaer. She flies a Dutch flag at the main, a plain red ensign and a striped jack, red white and blue. Note the distinctive turret on her quarter gallery and lion supporters visible on the taffrail. A figure standing in the stern gestures towards an approaching boat in the centre foreground where four distinguished people are seated and a trumpeter stands in the bow.
The stern decoration of the flagship in the centre suggests that she is the Huis te Zwieten built in 1653. She shows the arms of Amsterdam above the rudder as well as crossed anchors, signifying the Admiralty, to either side of it. She flies a Dutch flag at the fore and, also, as an ensign.
The artist was the younger son of Willem van de Velde the Elder. Unlike his father’s work, however, the Younger’s were not usually eyewitness accounts.
The Society has published numerous articles on the Van de Delde’s in the Mariner’s Mirror which can be browsed here.