In this naval battle scene, a ship burns with bright yellow flames, creating a cloud of thick, black smoke. The work shows a scene from the Battle of Solebay, the opening battle of the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1872-74).
Willem van de Velde made several different paintings showing the Battle of Solebay and the ‘Royal James’ burning. Other examples are in the collections of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; the National Trust; and the Ministry of Defence Art Collection.
Willem van de Velde II, marine painter, was the son of Dutch marine painter Willem van de Velde I. He was born in Leyden and studied first under his father and then under another marine painter, Simon de Vlieger. He began hid career in the early 1650s, when living in Amsterdam and his best works date from his Dutch period. By 1672 he had settled in England and in 1674 both he and his father were in the service of Charles II. There are many examples of the work of both father and son at the National Maritime Museum and in other public collections in the UK and they cannot always be distinguished. Although neither father nor son learned the English language, their influence on English maritime painting lasted until the time of Turner.
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