VELDE, Willem van de, the Younger
(b. 1633, Leiden, d. 1707, London)

The Taking of the English Flagship the Royal Prince

Oil on canvas, 59 x 81 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Like his father, Willem van de Velde the Younger specialised in paintings of ships and naval battles, but whereas his father elected for the extreme precision of a draughtsmanlike technique, he preferred colour and a method that allowed him to depict the mood of the day, the lead-grey smoke of battle or clouds against a blue sky in stormy weather. His work displays great variety within the limitations of the genre, ranging from small, subtly executed pieces, like this one, to a monumental of Ij Sound in Amsterdam, now in the Amsterdams Historisch Museum, and from a single ship on mirror smooth water to dramatic fires at sea and raging storms.

The Four Days Battle was a naval battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Fought from 11 June to 14 June 1666 off the Flemish and English coast, it remains one of the longest naval engagements in history. Although the Dutch claimed victory, both sides had suffered sever losses. Those of the English were greater and included the ships captured by the Dutch which are depicted in the companion piece (also in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).