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Willem van de the Elder Velde

(b. 1611)


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(b Leiden, 1611; bur. London, 16 Dec. 1693).

Dutch marine painter. He came from a naval family and devoted himself to the drawing and painting of ships. His pictures, which are frequently grisailles, contain faithful and detailed portraits of vessels (of much value to naval historians) and for a time he was an official artist for the Dutch fleet. In the winter of 1672–3, when the Netherlands were at war with England, he moved to London and entered the service of Charles II; why he left his country at a critical moment in its fortunes remains unclear. Willemthe Younger (bapt. Leiden, 18 Dec. 1633; d London or Greenwich, Surrey [now in London], 6 Apr. 1707), his son, is one of the most illustrious of all marine painters. He was the pupil of his father and of Simon de Vlieger. Like his father, he gave very accurate portrayals of ships, but he is distinguished from him by his feeling for atmosphere and his majestic sense of composition. He left Amsterdam for England with his father in 1672–3 and in 1674 Charles II gave them a yearly retaining fee of £100 each: the father received his ‘for taking and making draughts of sea fights’ and the son ‘for putting the said draughts into colours for our particular use’. They did not switch their allegiance to England completely: both subsequently painted pictures of naval battles for the Dutch as well as the English market. Willem the Younger's influence, however, was particularly great in England, where the whole tradition of marine painting stems from him. His younger brother, Adriaen (bapt. Amsterdam, 30 Nov. 1636; bur. Amsterdam, 21 Jan. 1672), was a versatile and prolific artist in spite of his short life. He is said to have been a pupil of his father and of Jan Wijnants. His output included various types of landscapes (most notably some fresh and atmospheric beach scenes) and also religious and mythological works, portraits, and animal pictures. He also made etchings and often painted the figures into the landscapes of other artists, notably Hobbema and Ruisdael.

Subjects: Art.


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