VELDE, Willem van de, the Elder
(b. 1611, Leiden, d. 1693, London)

Dutch Harbour in Calm

Pen, ink and oil on panel, 48 x 65 cm
Private collection

This panel shows a Dutch harbour in a calm with small vessels inshore and beached among fishermen, a kaag at anchor, a states yacht and men o'war offshore.

This composition in black and white, a remarkable fusion of painting and drawing, is usually described as a pen-painting (after the Dutch penschilderij). The technique probably derives from the work of Hendrick Goltzius, but for the Mannerist painter it was a bravura demonstration of technical virtuosity, a means of astounding his viewers with his extraordinary dexterity, while for Willem van de Velde the Elder, it was more a means to an end. Over the course of his long career he made relatively few traditional oil paintings in colour, preferring instead the pen-painting, and he viewed himself primarily as a draftsman.