Willem van de Velde II, 'Storm at sea'

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C. 1703
Oil on canvas
89 cm
115.5 cm

M.S. Robinson, The paintings of the Willem van de Veldes, Londen 1990, deel II, p.1120, 1121, cat. no. 482.


Exhibited at 'Amsterdam Oude kunst in de Nieuwe Kerk', 3e Kunst- en Antiekbeurs 1985, catalogue p. 34.


English private collection
Christie┬┤s Londen December 17th, 1982. Lotno. 111 (with wrong measurements)
Johnny van Haeften London, 1983 (as Willem van de Velde)
Rob Kattenburg 1984
Dutch private collection

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A dark sky with stormy clouds sweeping over the sea. Nevertheless a beam of sunlight breaks through and lightens an English ship, in trouble. The foremast and bowsprit broke off completely. The big mast broke off just under the first yard and only the mizzenmast is still standing, though the cross topmast broke off just under the first crow's nest. In the background three ships try to stay ahead of the storm, one of them just lost its foremast. The ship in danger looks like one of the ships built around 1680 provided with 70 cannons. Possibly the great storm of 1703 is depicted in this painting.

This painting was partly painted by Willem van de Velde, possibly in 1703. It requires a great deal of accomplishment to depict ships in a storm in a convincing way, this painting is a true masterpiece. Van de Velde didn’t paint the whole painting because the sea doesn't show the quality we are used from Willem van de Velde, it was probably finished by his studio assistants. There are different versions of this painting and this present version is considered among the best. Another version is in possession of the St. Ottema Kingma stichting Leeuwarden. The third version is in English possession. Robinson does not rule out the possibility of a fourth painting by the master himself.

Willem van de Velde (1633-1707) was born in Leiden. His father - also called Willem van de Velde (hence I and II) – started life as a sailor and later became an artist for the Dutch navy. At fifteen, Van de Velde II was apprenticed to Simon de Vlieger, who specialised in atmospheric seascapes. Van de Velde II’s early marines are generally tranquil, showing groups of fishing boats off the coast. After he and his father moved to England in 1672, Van de Velde II broadened his range. While he continued to paint marines, he made numerous portraits of individual vessels, such as royal yachts and battle ships. Van de Velde II was commissioned by the British king to paint various naval battles.


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