BOL, Ferdinand
(b. 1616, Dordrecht, d. 1680, Amsterdam)

Portrait of Admiral Michiel Adriaensz. de Ruyter

Oil on canvas, 150 x 127 cm
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Michiel de Ruyter (1607-1676) was one of the most famous admirals in Dutch history. He is most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. His victories in the naval battles of the Dutch War of Independence and later during the Anglo-Dutch wars assured his place not only as a national hero, but also as one of the most respected admirals in history. His greatest military achievement was the Four Days' Battle of June 1666, which resulted in defeat for the English navy. De Ruyter was then asked to commission his own portrait in six copies, to be hung in the chambers of the regional offices of the admiralty in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Middelburg, Harlingen, Enkhuizen and Hoorn.

The commission to execute the portraits was awarded to Ferdinand Bol. Six almost identical copies of the official portrait of the commander-in-chief of the Dutch fleet were therefore made, of which four are still known today.

In the portrait De Ruyter is shown in three-quarter length, dressed in ceremonial attire with gold buttons and a thick gold belt, holding his admiral's baton. Around his neck he wears the chain of the Order of Saint Michael. His arm is resting on a celestial globe made by the celebrated Blaeu Company. The fleet appearing in the background of the portrait was executed by Willem van de Velde the Younger. As was common practice in the studios of the time, such traditional details in portraits of naval commanders were generally executed by artists who specialized in marine scenes.