Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1965.215
People
Willem van de Velde II, Dutch (Leiden 1633 - 1707 Greenwich)
Title
Seascape with Boats arriving at a Dutch Warship and Others at Anchor Beyond
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
17th century
Culture
Dutch
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/296363
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Brown ink and gray wash over graphite on cream antique laid paper, framing line in brown ink, laid down on antique laid paper
Dimensions
10.1 x 21.7 cm (4 x 8 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Lower left, gray ink: W.V.V J
  • collector's mark: former mat, lower left, black ink, stamp: L. 1507 (John Postle Heseltine)
  • inscription: former mat, lower right, lower center, graphite: HVO / coll. Dr Harman - / " S Woodburn - / sale colln No 24 / Heseltine / [lower center] W. Van develde
  • collector's mark: former mat, verso, black ink, stamp: L. 640 (Charles Sackville Bale)
  • watermark: Fleur-de-lis over RSPSRSS; closely related to Robinson watermark 74, Cat. 1401 (1700?). In mount: Grapes; too illegible to identify
  • inscription: verso, lower left, black ink, visible through mount: f 140:
  • inscription: verso, lower left, blue ink, visible through mount: f 275-:
  • inscription: verso, lower left, gray ink, visible through mount: dJ
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite, visible through mount: R5 9LS
Provenance
Perhaps Jeremiah Harman, London. Perhaps Samuel Woodburn, London, perhaps sold; [Christie’s, London, 4 June 1860 and following days, under lots 1009–1013.] Probably M. P. van der Dussen van Beefting, probably sold; [Lamme, Rotterdam, 29-20 May 1876, as part of lot 712.] Probably J. F. Ellinckhuysen, Rotterdam, probably sold; [Muller and Van Gogh, Amsterdam, 19-20 November 1878, lot 256 or 257]; to Hogarth. Charles Sackville Bale, London (L. 640, former mat), sold; [Christie’s, London, 9 June 1881 and following days, lot 2490]; to [Jane Noseda, London.] John Postle Heseltine, London (L. 1507, former mat), by 1910, sold; [Muller, Amsterdam, 27-28 May 1913, lot 220]; to [Muller (bought in).] [Frederick Keppel & Co., New York], sold; to Meta and Paul J. Sachs, Cambridge, MA (L. 2091, without his mark), 1913; Bequest of Meta and Paul J. Sachs, 1965.215
Published Text
Catalogue
Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums
Authors
William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson
Publisher
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016)

Catalogue entry no. 91a by Susan Anderson:

Willem van de Velde II (the Younger) produced paintings and drawings of seascapes and other maritime themes, often in the service of his father, Willem van de Velde I (the Elder, 1611–1693), who is best known for his highly detailed and directly observed views of battles at sea. A presumed apprenticeship with Simon de Vlieger around 1650 in Weesp, however, reinforced in the younger Willem a more picturesque approach to marine and naval scenes, as seen in the present sheets. Van de Velde the Younger married twice, first to Pieternella le Maire of Weesp in Amsterdam in 1652—strengthening the possibility of an apprenticeship to De Vlieger—and again to Magdalena Walraven in Amsterdam in 1666. Around that time, Willem the Younger appears to have begun drawing ships from shore, particularly those that returned victorious from the Four Days’ Battle of the Second Anglo–Dutch War.1 Otherwise, he appears to have been the “studio man,” while Van de Velde the Elder traveled. He moved with his father to Greenwich during the winter of 1672–73 and resided there until his death in 1707, with occasional trips back to Holland. His swift inheritance of his father’s clientele after his death in 1693 implies that the Younger was well acquainted with the nautical set, and his travel to the Mediterranean in the following year further indicates his familiarity with seafaring.2 But, unlike his father’s case, no drawings can securely place the Younger at sea during battle.

These two drawings (1965.215, 1965.216) belong to a group of six sheets by Van de Velde the Younger depicting Dutch warships at anchor in a light breeze, all in brown ink and gray wash and measuring approximately 101 × 217 mm. As a group, they depict the three flagships of one squadron: the common Dutch flag at the foremast indicates the admiral, at the mainmast the vice admiral, and at the mizzen the rear admiral (schout-bij-nacht). The Dutch flag also appears intermittently on smaller kaags —a type of sprit-rigged sailboat with a straight raking stem at the bow—and rowboats that pull toward the various war-ships, suggesting the arrival of ranking officials.3 One of the Harvard sheets, Seascape with Boats, depicts the rear admiral seen from the stern and approached by a kaag and two rowboats, with the admiral and vice admiral in the right background and an unidentified ship in the left background. The other Harvard sheet, Two Dutch Warships, depicts the admiral and vice admiral seen from the bow and approached by three rowboats. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, are two other sheets: one depicting a salute between a warship and a kaag (Fig. 1), and the other the admiral and the vice admiral from the bow (Fig. 2).4 The remaining two are very close to our first drawing here, depicting the rear admiral approached by two kaags and three rowboats—the first with the warship seen from starboard, with an unidentified ship at the left background, and the second with the rear admiral seen from port, with the remainder of the squadron in the background.5

Previous scholarship suggested a date of 1686 for these works—therefore that they would have been drawn during a visit to Amsterdam—although more thorough stylistic comparison does not bear this out.6 Unlike the energetically rapid pen work of Van de Velde the Younger’s British period, these sheets have the controlled surety of hand in their abbreviated linear approach more characteristic of drawings dated by M. S. Robinson to around 1665.7 Also, though the artist painted scenes of calm and light breezes throughout his career, the greatest concentration of such works appears during the 1660s. Given the similarities between the ships and their relative positions within this group, it is tempting to conclude that Van de Velde drew them from observation while seated onshore. If the dating based on stylistic grounds is correct, these warships may be among those that fought in the Second Anglo–Dutch War (March 4, 1665–July 31, 1667). Robinson described one drawing by Van de Velde the Younger, formerly in the Ingram Collection, as inscribed with the location of Den Helder, and another as having to do with the Battle of Lowestoft, both dated 1665.8 Before the war, the Dutch fleet gathered more southward in 1664, in the protected inlet known as the Goeree roadstead, between Goederede and Hellevoetsluis. This area would become the major port of the naval fleet, which allowed for the replenishment of supplies and undisturbed preparations for battle—the perfect spot to study the calmer aspects of seafaring life.9 The lack of detail in the decorative aspects of the sterns, however, prevents their identification as specific vessels. Furthermore, their tidy compositions and picturesque depictions of waves and clouds suggest an aesthetic, rather than documentary, goal—although one based upon intimate knowledge of naval procedures.

Notes

1 M. S. Robinson, Van de Velde drawings: A catalogue of paintings of the elder and the younger Willem van de Velde (Cambridge, UK, 1990), p. xv, and M. S. Robinson, Van de Velde drawings: A catalogue of drawings in the National Maritime Museum made by the elder and the younger Willem van de Velde, (Cambridge, UK, 1958–74), vol. 1, pp. 5, 7, and 8.

2 Robinson (1990), p. xxv.

3 Many thanks to Pieter van der Merwe of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, for his assistance in identifying the ships.

4 Willem van de Velde II, Dutch Ships in a Bay (Fig. 1), brown ink, gray wash over black chalk, 98 × 219 mm. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005.330.9; Willem van de Velde II, Dutch Ships at Anchor (Fig. 2), brown ink, gray wash over black chalk, 98 × 216 mm. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005.330.10.

5 Willem van de Velde II, A Dutch Ship at Anchor with a Kaag Coming Alongside; brown ink, blue-gray wash, and graphite, 100 × 217 mm, Cambridge, U.K., Fitzwilliam Museum, PD.799-1963; Willem van de Velde II, Dutch Ships at Anchor, brown ink, gray wash, and graphite, 99 × 215 mm, Cambridge, U.K., Fitzwilliam Museum, PD.800-1963.

6 Agnes Mongan, Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs (1878–1965) Given and Bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Cambridge: Fogg Art Museum; New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1965), cat. 27A.

7 M. S. Robinson seldom gives secure dates for the drawings of the Younger, especially, although he often does offer a year with a question mark along-side. Several of the Younger’s drawings he dates to “1665?” among a much larger set done in that year; they include his cats. 191, 196, and 197. All depict large groups of Dutch ships at anchor, with similar use of the low horizon and aerial perspective, and similar blends of fine but abbreviated ink details combined with diffuse washes, especially in the sky.

8 Based on an unspecified drawing in the Ashmolean and two in the former Ingram collection (Ingram inv. nos. 356 and 95; see M. S. Robinson, 1958–74, vol. 2, nos. 932 and 878, respectively), Robinson concludes (vol. 1, p. 7) that the Younger also drew ships from observation on the days leading up to the Battle of Lowestoft in the Nieuwe Diep on 21 April–1 May 1665 (no. 878); in Den Helder on 4–14 May 1665 (no. 932); and probably at sea on 22 May–1 June 1665. The detailed inscriptions on the two Ingram drawings noting the dates, times, weather conditions, and locations support his conclusion.

9 R. E. J. Weber, “The Artistic Relationship between the Ship Draughtsman Willem van de Velde the Elder and His Son the Marine Painter in the Year 1664,” Master Drawings, vol. 17, no. 2 (1979): 152–61, p. 153.

Figures
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Meta and Paul J. Sachs
Accession Year
1965
Object Number
1965.215
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

John Postle Heseltine, Original Drawings by Old Masters of the Dutch School in the Collection of J.P.H., Chiswick Press (London, England, 1910), cat. no. 31, n.p., repr.

John Postle Heseltine, Original Drawings by Old Masters of the Italian School Forming Part of the Collection of J. P. H., J. J. Waddington, Ltd. (London, England, 1913), cat. no. 31, n.p., repr.

D. H. Gordon, "Two Seafaring Artists: the W. van der Veldes", The International Studio (1931), vol. XCIX, pp. 16-17 and 73, repr.

Margaret Scott, An Exhibition of Old-Master Drawings for the Benefit of Public Health Nursing Milk and Emergency Fund, exh. cat., Junior League (Pittsburgh, 1933), cat. no. 10, p. 11

Agnes Mongan and Paul J. Sachs, Drawings in the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, 1940), vol. 1, cat. no. 536, p. 282, repr. vol. 2, fig. 277

Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Art of Europe during the XVIth - XVIIth Centuries, exh. cat., Worcester Art Museum (1948), cat. no. 55, p. 39, repr. p. 40, fig. 55

An Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Drawings and Watercolors, checklist, Unpublished (1954), cat. no. 63, p. 15

Agnes Mongan, Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs [1878-1965]: given and bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, exh. cat., Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, 1965), cat. no. 27B, n.p., repr. and p. 206

Fogg Art Museum Acquisitions, 1965, 1966, p. 45

William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), cat. no. 91a, pp. 301-303, repr. p. 302 (top); watermark p. 382

Exhibition History

An Exhibition of Old-Master Drawings for the Benefit of Public Health Nursing Milk and Emergency Fund, Junior League, Pittsburgh, 12/13/1933 - 01/06/1934

Old Master Drawings lent by the William Hayes Fogg Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, 06/18/1943 - 07/18/1943

Unidentified Exhibition, Smith College Museum of Art, 1944, Smith College Museum of Art, 01/01/1944 - 01/31/1944

Drawings from the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University (Collected by Paul J. Sachs), Century Club, New York, 05/12/1947 - 09/25/1947

Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Art of Europe during the XVIth-XVIIth Centuries, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, 01/01/1948 - 12/31/1948

An Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Drawings and Watercolors, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/01/1954 - 04/30/1954

Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs [1878-1965] Given and Bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 11/15/1965 - 01/15/1966; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, 12/19/1966 - 02/26/1967

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu