VELDE, Willem van de, the Younger
(b. 1633, Leiden, d. 1707, London)
Ships in a Calm Sea1653
Oil on canvas, 42 x 48 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
In this work a royal yacht bearing the arms of the House of Orange anchors in a port. It is surrounded by various large sailing vessels, upon which Dutch prosperity was founded, whilst on the shore various figures are bathing in the morning sun.
The painting was part of a collection of ninety-five old master paintings sold to Catherine the Great (1729-1796) by the famous Swiss collector François Tronchin (1704-1798). Tronchin was a financier and civic leader who was a friend of the philosophers Denis Diderot and Voltaire. After selling much of his collection to the Empress in 1770, he continued to advise Catherine on her future purchases.