black chalk on paper: 13 x 30,5 cm
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Willem van de Velde came from one of the greatest seventeenth century families of Dutch masters; his father Willem van de Velde I (1611 – 1693) was a first rate draughtsman of marines whose love of the sea and ships was inherited by his youngest son. The important pastoral landscapist Adriaen van de Velde (1636-1672) was Willem II’s younger brother. In the early part of his career Willem II was influenced by his father but also by his contemporary seascape artists Simon de Vlieger and Abraham van Beyeren.
Willem II was a draughtsman throughout his career and he continuously executed highly detailed renderings of ships and scenes as studies for his paintings. The present view can be compared with other similar views by Van de Velde that depict fleets at the entrance to the Texel, near Den Helder. Two examples are in the great collection of drawings by the Van de Veldes in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, and another was recently sold in London. Unlike those drawings, though, the present work includes quite a number of buildings in the background – surely Den Helder, which was the only significant settlement in that remote part of the North Holland peninsula. Den Helder, the Texel and the nearby islands were locations of immense importance for the Dutch fleet, and multiple fortifications were built in this area.
Sometimes, if the wind was unfavourable, the ships would lay in the docks for long periods of time, waiting for the wind to turn.
Willem van de Veldt II enjoyed enormous success in his lifetime, with royal patronage from King Charles II of England. Chalk good and fresh, and visual impression strong. Sold in a Dutch carved dark wood frame.