Ships and fishing boats off the dunes in a calm sea


Willem van de VELDE the Younger

Leiden 1633 – 1707 London

Ships and fishing boats off the dunes in a calm sea

Pen and brush in gray and black ink over traces of graphite; brown ink framing lines.

102 x 318 mm (4 x 12-1/2 in).

WATERMARK: countermark PB, similar to Churchill no. 7 (Arms of Amsterdam, dated 1662); Gaudriault 1995, no. 4233 (Arms of Amsterdam, dated 1662); Robinson 1958-74, vol. 1, pp. 205, 213, no. 8 (Arms of Amsterdam, dated 1665), vol. 2, p. 146 (?1665). (R35)
CHAIN LINES: horizontal, 23-25mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: initialed W.V.V J at lower left corner (pen in black ink); verso, at lower left corner vertically lot 1 (pen in black ink, 19th century?); at center 28 (pencil); at upper left, paraph? (pencil).
PROVENANCE: Sale, London, Christie’s, 29 June 1971, lot 282.

Sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 6 February 1997, lot 18, acquired at the sale.

EXHIBITIONS: Robinson, Franklin W. and Peck, Sheldon. Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Drawings from the Peck Collection. Chapel Hill/ Ithaca/ Worcester. 1999-2001. Published catalogue.

The drawings in this exhibition by Willem van de Velde the Younger, Abraham de Verwer, and Allart van Everdingen are testimony to this intense interest in the sea, and the Dutch relationship to it.  For example, van de Velde’s father, also a distinguished marine painter, carefully “reported” the Four-Day Sea Battle between England and the Netherlands in 1662, as well as many other events that became familiar to every Dutch adult and child.

This sensitive drawing by Willem the Younger, whose brother Adriaen is also represented in this exhibition, is apparently not a preparatory study for a painting; it is, in fact, similar to  many such calm seascapes by Willem.  This appears to be a morning scene with a weyschuit in the right foreground unfurling its sails and preparing to lift anchor.  It is particularly close to a drawing (Fig. 1) of almost the same size (85 x 305 mm), with a sailboat in the left foreground, other boats and larger ships in the right background, with a cloudy sky and the shore just visible in a distance; it is signed in the lower right.  In this way, the drawing, in a private collection, England, becomes a virtual pendant to the present drawing, signed in the lower left, and the two sheets, probably made in the studio from Willem’s great familiarity with such scenes, were no doubt intended to be sold together.

Further, the paper can be dated to 1662-5, and the drawing can be related to other works by the artist from about 1665 to 1675.