Willem van de VELDE II
Leiden, baptised 18 December 1633–London, 6 April 17071
Painter and draughtsman
Willem van de Velde II  worked for a large part of his life in Britain, but is still considered to be Dutch. Son of the marine painter Willem van de Velde I (c. 1611–93), and raised in Amsterdam, he presumably studied under his father before being apprenticed to Simon de Vlieger (1600/1601–53) in Weesp. His brother was the landscapist Adriaen van de Velde (1636–72). In 1652 he was back in Amsterdam, where he began work in his father’s studio.
Willem’s skills were apparent early on, and in his twenties he painted numerous calm scenes that were widely celebrated for their exquisite facture and technical accuracy. In 1672–3 he moved with his father to England, perhaps to escape the continuing unrest affecting the Netherlands; the relationship between England and the Netherlands had changed, and England had the upper hand. The Van de Veldes were received by no less a figure than Charles II of England (1630–65), who lodged them in a house in East Lane, Greenwich, and provided them with a studio in the Queen’s House. A royal warrant of 12 January 1674 makes it clear that Willem the Elder provided drawings that his son turned into finished paintings. In 1691 father and son moved to Westminster. In England, as in the Netherlands, the pair headed a large and active studio. Four marine paintings by Willem the Younger at Ham House near London date from this period.2 The Van de Veldes still received commissions from Dutch patrons , including Admiral Cornelis Tromp (1629–91).
In England, the weather conditions in the Van de Veldes’ paintings changed from calm to storms (perhaps under the influence of Ludolf Bakhuizen;1630–1708), and the subject matter from anonymous small cargo ships for inland waters3 to portraits of specific vessels such as royal yachts and men-of-war, to shipwrecks, and to battle scenes. Willem the Younger does not seem to have witnessed many of the latter himself, but a year after his father’s death in 1693 he spent a year in the Mediterranean in the fleet of Admiral Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford (1653–1724). This late period is marked by a freer style unconcerned with precise accuracy. Father and son were both buried in St James’s, Piccadilly, where they are commemorated by a 20th-century memorial plaque.
Willem van de Velde II was very much appreciated in later years, both in the Netherlands (see for instance the work of the 19th-century Dordrecht painter Johannes Christiaan Schotel (1787–1838)) and in Britain. The Van de Veldes were a major influence on English marine artists throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, and could be regarded as the founders of the British school of marine painting. Both John Constable (1776–1837) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) admired the younger Van de Velde, Turner regarding him as one of the great masters. Probably in reaction to the general appreciation, John Ruskin took DPG68 as an example to show how poor the Dutch (or at least Van de Velde) were at depicting the sea. (His choice was unfair, since at the time DPG68 was not considered to be the best Van de Velde at Dulwich, and now it is after Van de Velde.)
Britton’s 1813 inventory shows that Desenfans and Bourgeois were thought to have three pictures by Willem van de Velde the Younger. Now only one of those is still considered to be by him, DPG103; of the others, one is now after him (DPG68) and one is assigned to the Studio of the English artist Peter Monamy (1680/81–1748/9; DPG298).4 The artist of DPG197, now considered to be an autograph work, was not recognized in Britton 1813.
Robinson 1990; Cordingly 1996; Giltaij & Kelch 1996, p. 333; Daalder 2013; Daalder 2016; Van der Veen 2019f; Ecartico, no. 7639: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/7639 (Nov. 21, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 79794: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/79794 (Nov. 21, 2017).
Lodewijk van der Helst
Portrait of Willem van de Velde II (1633-1707), second half 1660s
canvas, oil paint 103 x 91 cm
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./cat.nr. SK-A- 2236
Willem van de Velde (II)
The former flagship of Cornelis Tromp 'De Gouden Leeuw' (the Gold Lion) on the IJ in front of Amsterdam, dated 1686
canvas, oil paint 179,5 x 316 cm
Amsterdam, Amsterdam Museum, inv./cat.nr. A 7421; 465 (cat. 1975/79)
DPG103 – A Brisk Breeze
c. 1665; canvas, 52.1 x 65 cm
Signed on floating plank, lower left: W V V
?Desenfans;5 ?Desenfans 1802, ii, pp. 153–4, no. 150;6 ?Insurance 1804, no. 38 (‘Vanderveldt – A Sea Piece. £400’) – but this is perhaps a reference to DPG68; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 31, no. 324 (‘Unhung / no. 55, Sea View with Shipping – C[anvas] W Vandervelde’; 2'7" x 2'11").
Cat. 1817, p. 9, no. 143 (‘SECOND ROOM – North Side; A brisk Gale; W. Vandevelde’); Haydon 1817, p. 384, no. 143;7 Cat. 1820, p. 9, no. 143; Cat. 1830, p. 9, no. 166; Smith 1829–42, vi (1835), p. 332, no. 40 (Worth 450l);8 Jameson 1842, ii, p. 469, no. 166;9 Bentley’s 1851, p. 347;10 Waagen 1854, ii, p. 345, no. 2;11 Denning 1858, no. 166; Denning 1859, no. 166 (‘This picture has always attracted the Lovers of Art’); Sparkes 1876, p. 184, no. 166; Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 174, no. 166;12 Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 26, no. 103; Cook 1914, p. 62, no. 103; HdG, vii, 1918, p. 131, no. 493 (Engl. edn 1923, p. 125); Cook 1926, p. 59, no. 103; Cat. 1953, p. 41; Murray 1980a, p. 132 (early 1660s); Murray 1980b, p. 29; Robinson 1990, ii, pp. 810–11, no. 103 (‘Painted entirely by the Younger for the Van de Velde studio, c. 1665’); Vogel 1992, pp. 168, 413 (fig. 305); Beresford 1998, p. 246; De Beer 2002, pp. 181–2; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 272–3; RKD, no. 286813: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/286813 (Nov. 28, 2017).
London 1952–3;13 London/Washington/Los Angeles 1985–6, pp. 114–15, no. 32 (D. Cordingly); Tokyo/Shizuoka/Osaka/Yokohama 1986–7, pp. 132–3, no. 34 (in Japanese; D. Cordingly); Warsaw 1992, pp. 122–3, no. 26 (D. Cordingly); Houston/Louisville 1999–2000, pp. 206–7, no. 75 (D. Shawe-Taylor).
Fine plain-weave linen canvas glue/paste-lined onto linen canvas; a new stretcher was provided in 1998, and the old one kept for reference (although it is not original there is an interesting red wax Bourgeois seal on one member). Some of the original tacking margins remain intact. The ground is grey and bears a distracting but (now) secure, predominantly vertical, mechanical craquelure with raised sharp edges over much of its surface. There are some areas where cupping has been an issue, particularly at the top, right and lower edges; very small old paint losses at the edges of some of the cracks indicate that this was a longstanding problem. The surface was consolidated during the painting’s 1998 conservation. In addition to the craquelure, there is slight abrasion in the glazed shadow of the upper cloud and in the rigging, and some thinness in areas of the sky; otherwise, the paint film is generally in good condition. There are scattered fills and retouchings. Previous recorded treatment: 1949–53, conserved, Dr Hell; 1984, surface cleaned, worst cracks and blemishes retouched, varnished, National Maritime Museum, S. Sanderson; 1998, paint surface consolidated, relined, new stretcher, cleaned, filled, retouched and revarnished, S. Plender.
1) Copy: Ralph Cockburn, A Brisk Gale, aquatint, 176 x 235 mm (Cockburn 1830, no. 5). DPG .14
In the left centre of the scene is a kaag, a boat designed to carry cargo on inland waterways, shown in starboard bow view. She is running before the wind, and in the bow a sailor is hauling down the foresail, while her sprit-sail is already half lowered and her sprit is horizontal in the slings. Behind her to the right and nearly parallel is a smalschip, a ‘narrow ship’ able to negotiate locks on inland waterways, head turned into the wind. In the background at the extreme left is a third ship, a hoeker, a type of fishing vessel. Various warships can be seen in the distance.15
Smith, Jameson and Waagen called the picture ‘A View of(f) the Texel’ (the biggest and most populated of the islands in the Wadden Sea off the coast of North Holland and Friesland), but this seems uncertain, as there is no land in sight. It has proved impossible to identify the colours flying on the vane of the kaag.
Michael Robinson dated the picture c. 1665, which seems likely. Of the three works once attributed to Willem van de Velde the Younger at Dulwich, this is the best preserved.
The provenance of the picture before it entered Bourgeois’ collection is unclear. It is probably significant that the previous stretcher of the picture bears an impression of Bourgeois’ seal, suggesting that it could have been purchased by him rather than Desenfans. Whatever its origin, the picture was widely admired in the 19th century, Waagen writing that ‘A warm evening light, happily blended with the delicate silver tone of the master, and the most exquisite finish of all the parts, make this one of his most charming pictures.’
Willem van de Velde (II)
Brisk Breeze, c. 1665
canvas, oil paint 52,1 x 65 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG103
Ralph Cockburn after Willem van de Velde (II)
Brisk Gale, 1816-1820
paper, aquatint 176 x 235 mm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery
DPG197 – A Calm
1663; canvas on panel, 34 x 37.5 cm
Signed and dated, bottom right: W. V. V. 1663
?John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, before 1796; possibly one of the Van de Velde pictures from his collection sold at Christie’s, 19 March 1796 (Lugt 5423; ‘Late the property of the Earl of Bute dec.’); Michael Bryan sale, Coxe, 18 May 1798 (Lugt 5764), lot 17 (‘W. Vandevelde – A calm with fishing boats, a very beautiful cabinet picture from the marine collection of the Earl of Bute’), sold, £26 5s.; ?John Nesbitt sale, Coxe, 25 May 1802 (Lugt 6448), lot 58 (‘W. van de Velde – A Calm, a small but beautiful Cabinet Performance, with a Variety of Vessels and Ships full of Figures; a Picture of rare Merit of this most elegant and admired Sea Painter. From the Collection of the Earl of Bute’); bt FB (Bourgeois) for £48 6s.; Insurance 1804, no. 117 (‘Vandeveldt – A small Sea Piece. £100’); Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 23, no. 233 (‘Drawing Room / no. 21, Shipping – a Calm sea’ [no support mentioned, or attribution]; 2' x 1'10").
Cat. 1817, p. 9, no. 140 (‘SECOND ROOM – North Side; A Calm; W. Vandevelde’);16 Haydon 1817;17 Cat. 1820;18 Cat. 1830, p. 10, no. 186; Jameson 1842, ii, p. 472, no. 186 (‘A Calm at Sea’); Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 186; Sparkes 1876, p. 184, no. 186 (wrongly as ‘No. 39 in Smith’s Catalogue’); Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 174, no.186;19 Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 52, no. 197; Cook 1914, p. 124, no. 197; HdG, vii, 1918, pp. 59–60, no. 201 and probably p. 98, no. 340A (Engl. edn 1923, pp. 56, 93); Cook 1926, p. 117, no. 197; Murray 1980a, p. 132; Murray 1980b, p. 29; Robinson 1990, i, p. 493, no. 102 (‘Painted substantially by the Younger for the Van de Velde studio, 1663’); Beresford 1998, p. 247; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 274–5; RKD, no. 286830: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/286830 (Nov. 28, 2017).
Houston/Louisville 1999–2000, pp. 204–5, no. 74 (D. Shawe-Taylor).
Plain-weave linen canvas. The canvas has been glued onto a mahogany panel; the canvas has suffered weave emphasis. The lower tacking margin remains and remnants of the sides are present. The paint is in good condition with very fine craquelure, which is raised in some places but secure. There are minute retouchings in the sky, which appear very slightly matt, and an old retouching at the left edge. The horizon is overpainted and slightly blanched. The rigging appears abraded in places and the edges are worn from frame abrasion. Previous recorded treatment: 1912, cleaned, Holder; 1952–3, conserved, Dr Hell.
1) Copy: Ralph Cockburn, A Calm, aquatint, 135 x 179 mm (Cockburn 1830, no. 41). DPG .20
The Van de Veldes first became famous for their small cabinet pictures of Dutch fishing vessels shown in a calm at low tide, of which this is a typical example, coupling fastidious technical accuracy in the depiction of the shipping with impressive skies equal to those of the best Dutch landscape painters.
Two small vessels are shown in a coastal inlet at low tide – in the right foreground a smalschip, seen in starboard quarter view, and behind it a kaag, seen side-on. The smalschip’s mainsail is being lowered to the deck and the Dutch flag hangs limply, showing that the wind has dropped. The kaag is slackly anchored and her crew seem to be busying themselves, while a small boat without a mast (Robinson suggests this might be a weyschuit (a simple wooden hulk) draws alongside. At the left a dinghy is being pushed off with oars, aided by two men in the water. In the background are numerous large ships, all becalmed, and in the far distance on the right is land. Above are puffy cumulus clouds in a blue sky, with stratocumulus above.21 Robinson suggested some workshop involvement, responsible for the ‘muddled drawing’ of the lowered foresail of the smalschip, but this seems unduly harsh. A small weakness like this only underlines the superb proficiency of the Van de Veldes’ usual draughtsmanship. To a contemporary audience the scene would have been immediately recognizable as set in the Northern Netherlands.
The earliest possible provenance recorded for DPG197 is in a posthumous sale held in 1796 of the collection of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713–92), Prime Minister in 1762–3. While there was a taste for Dutch maritime pictures in Britain in the 18th century, it is tempting to suggest that Stuart might have purchased the picture in the Netherlands when he was a student at the University of Leiden in 1728–32.
Willem van de Velde (II)
canvas on panel, oil paint 34 x 37,5 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG197
Ralph Cockburn after Willem van de Velde (II)
paper, aquatint 135 x 179 mm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery
After Willem van de Velde II
DPG68 – A Calm
17th or 18th century; canvas, 60 x 75.5 cm
Signed or inscribed on floating plank, bottom left: W… (worn)
?Insurance 1804, no. 38 (‘A Sea Piece, £400’) – but this is perhaps a reference to DPG103; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 29, no. 301 (‘Unhung / no. 32, Sea view, shipping, calm. C. [sic] Vandervelde’; 2'1" x 3'4").
Cat. 1817, p. 7, no. 93 (‘SECOND ROOM – South Side; A Calm; W. Vandevelde’); Haydon 1817, p. 378, no. 93;22 Cat. 1820, p. 7, no. 93; Hazlitt 1824, p. 33 no. 93;23 Cat. 1830, p. 7, no. 113; Smith 1829–42, vi (1835), pp. 331–2, no. 39;24 Jameson 1842, ii, p. 460, no. 113;25 Hazlitt 1843, p. 26, no. 92;26 Ruskin 1843, pt ii, sec. v, ch. 1 (Of Water, as Painted by the Ancients), pp. 334–6;27 Ruskin 1843, pt ii, sec. v, ch. iii (Of Water, as Painted by Turner), p. 355;28 Ruskin 1846, pt ii, sec. v, ch. 1 (Of Water, as Painted by the Ancients), p. 336;29 Waagen 1854, ii, pp. 344–5, no. 1;30 Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 113;31 Sparkes 1876, pp. 183–4, no. 113; Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 174, no. 113;32 Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, pp. 17–18, no. 68; HdG, vii, 1918, p. 59, no. 200 (Engl. edn 1923, p. 56); Cook 1914, pp. 39–40, no. 68; Cook 1926, p. 38, no. 68; Cat. 1953, p. 41; Murray 1980a, p. 299 (not exhibited; W. van de Velde); Robinson 1990, i, p. 356, no. 104 ; Beresford 1998, p. 247 (after Van de Velde); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 275; RKD, no. 286841: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/286841 (Nov. 28, 2017).
Hatchlands 1994, n.p., no. 68.33
Plain-weave linen canvas. Glue-paste lined. There is slight heat damage from the lining in the central ships; the old lining is now very stiff. There are many areas of abrasion to the paint surface due to overcleaning, and the work has previously been cleaned but left largely unrestored. The thin, worn varnish is slightly discoloured. Previous recorded treatment: 1912, lined, Holder; 1913, cleaned; 1947–55, cleaned, Dr Hell; 1990, keys secured and some replaced, P. Abrahams.
1) Willem van de Velde II, A Dutch Bezan Yacht Close to Port of a Watership at Anchor, signed W.V.V., c. 1661, canvas, 66 x 77 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Galerie Fievez, Brussels, 14 Dec. 1927, lot 112; possibly from the collection of Baron Léon de Pitteurs Hugaerts d’Ordange).34
2) (partly) Willem van de Velde II, A Dutch Bezan Yacht Close to Port of a Watership at Anchor, signed and dated W.V.V. 1661, canvas, 66 x 76.2 cm. Lost (Schloss Museum, Weimar, G. 112, until 1945).35
3) Willem van de Velde II, A Dutch Bezan Yacht Close to Port of a Watership at Anchor, signed W.V.V., canvas, 67 x 78.5 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (unknown bank, Hamburg, 1985; P. de Boer, Amsterdam, 1966).36
4) (probably a late 18th-century copy) A Dutch Bezan Yacht Close to Port of a Watership at Anchor, canvas, 59 x 72.4 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Mrs J. D. Hindley-Smith, Plymouth, Monserrat, West Indies, 1976).37
DPG68 is a studio repetition or 18th-century copy after what must have been a popular composition by Willem van de Velde the Younger (Related works, nos 1–4). The original was probably produced in 1661 or shortly before (Related works, no. 2). In 1835 John Smith noted that ‘This, like many pictures in the collection, is sadly deteriorated by unskilful cleaning’, while in 1842 Mrs Jameson described it as ‘ruined by most unskilful cleaning’. The observation was repeated by Waagen and Denning. Ruskin was either unaware of or ignored these doubts, and in Modern Painters closely described the picture and even added in another chapter what Van de Velde ought to have done, if he had followed Turner’s example. Seemingly this picture is according to Ruskin exemplary for all that is wrong with Dutch 17th-century seascapes, at least Van de Velde’s.38
Given all the criticism, it seems likely that the picture had been extensively restored and retouched to make it acceptable for display before Ruskin saw it. Around 1965, however, routine conservation revealed it for what it is, a studio repetition or late copy.
The scene shows a group of becalmed ships on a sunny day. In the centre is a bezan yacht seen from port astern, with the arms of Amsterdam on her stern and a pendant at the ensign staff, signifying that she is from the admiralty at Amsterdam. Her prow points to the centre of a waterschip seen from starboard that is lying at anchor with her sprit-sail lowered. On her starboard bow is a smalschip trying to get underway. What appears to be a weyschuit with sail set can be seen on the starboard quarter of the waterschip, and close astern is a small boat with two men in it, loaded with fish baskets. In the background on the left is a flute firing a gun ahead, while on the right a small ship is trying to get underway. Clearly a breeze has arisen, giving the ships some hope of escape from being becalmed.39
As Robinson noted, the vessels are lying in the Vlie: the Brandaris lighthouse on Terschelling island appears in the distance, centre left.40 This area was a centre of Dutch shipping and a natural target: on 15 August 1666, in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, an English skirmishing party entered the Vlie and burned a hundred and forty merchantmen, two men-of-war, and the village of Terschelling. Ships such as those seen here would have been prime targets for that raid.
after Willem van de Velde (II)
Calm sea, C. 1650-1800
canvas, oil paint 60 x 75,5 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG68
1 Van der Willigen on the RKD website (8 May, 2015) says he died on 17 April 1707; the difference is probably due to the fact that the calendar in England was (until 1752) ten days – in this case eleven days – behind the calendar in the Netherlands.
2 Dethloff 1996a, p. 141. However, according to Remmelt Daalder (in an email to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 28 March 2018, for which many thanks, DPG103 file) the pictures in Ham House are much earlier: shortly after 1672: see Daalder 2016, p. 141.
3 Often called fishing boats, which they are not, email from Remmelt Daalder to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 28 March 2018 (DPG103 file).
4 Ingamells 2008, p. 113, no. DPG298.
5 DPG103 is not ‘W. Vanderveldt – A large Sea Piece’ in the Desenfans sale, Skinner and Dyke, London, 18 March 1802 (Lugt 6380), lot 154, since that was much larger: a copy of the catalogue is annotated ‘65’ – 6 x 5 feet, or c. 183 x 152 cm.
6 ‘By the same [W van de Velde]; No. 150; A large Sea Piece; This, truly one of the most capital performances of the master, offers us a view of the sea, in a brisk gale, with a variety of shipping.’ As no dimensions are given it is not clear whether this is DPG103. Denning 1858, no. 166, however thinks it is.
7 ‘Adrian [sic] van der Velde. A Sea Piece. A fresh gale has sprung up suddenly, and the bustle of the vessels getting ready is well expressed; the sea, sky, and vessels, are beautifully depicted.’
8 ‘A View off the Texel […] This beautiful picture is of the choicest quality, in addition to which it has the advantage of being pure and intact. Now in the Dulwich gallery. Worth 450l.’
9 ‘A View of the Texel. […] A picture remarkable for the beauty of the general effect, and for the most delicate finish.’
10 ‘In the “Brisk Gale,” by Vandervelde (No. 166), the water is very finely modelled; but the tone of the whole picture is disagreeably black – time has probably changed the colours for the worse.’
11 ‘View of the Texel, the sea slightly agitated, enlivened by fishing-boats. A warm evening light, happily blended with the delicate silver tone of the master, and the most exquisite finish of all the parts, make this one of his most charming pictures. […] (No. 166).’
12 ‘Painted in a delicate grey tone; the motion of the waves very naturally rendered; the warm evening light is most happily rendered. Every part is exquisitely finished.’
13 Robinson 1990, ii, p. 811: ‘a label on the back shows that the picture was lent for the Royal Academy exhibition, but not exhibited.’
15 That is why Robinson suggested for this picture the title ‘A Kaag and a Smalschip at Sea with other Vessels in a Fresh Breeze’: Robinson 1990, ii, p. 810.
16 The other picture by Van de Velde in Cat. 1817 with ‘A Calm’ in the title is now ascribed to the studio of Peter Monamy (DPG 298): see Ingamells 2008, p. 113. Robinson 1990, i, p. 493, gives the same two possibilities; however in his Monamy entry (Robinson 1990, ii, p. 709) he refers to Cat. 1820, p. 7, no. 93, which is clearly DPG68: see the following note.
17 Of the two ‘Sea pieces’ by Van de Velde mentioned, p. 383, no. 140 is DPG197 (‘Van der Velde. A Sea Piece. A calm with vessels, one of which is saluting; the colouring, perspective, and every part, are beautiful and effective. It has, however, been sadly rubbed in cleaning’), while p. 392, no. 213 is now studio of Peter Monamy (DPG 298): see Ingamells 2008, p. 113.
18 Again two pictures by Van de Velde with ‘A Calm’ are mentioned: p. 9, no. 140 is DPG197; p. 12, no. 213 is now studio of Peter Monamy (DPG 298): see Ingamells 2008, p. 113.
19 ‘An early work of the master, important by reason of its authentic date.’
21 Robinson suggested for this picture the title: ‘A Smalschip and a Kaag in an Inlet at Low Water’, Robinson 1990, i, p. 493.
22 ‘Vandervelde. Sea Piece, With a brilliant display of ships; one large one, which has the figure of a goose on her stern, is firing a salute; two others, one a beautiful pleasure yacht, are lying-to in the centre.’
23 ‘Once a beautiful work of art, now much ruined by most unskilful cleaning.’
24 ‘This, like many pictures in the collection, is sadly deteriorated by unskilful cleaning. Now in the Dulwich gallery.’
25 ‘Several large and small Vessels becalmed at the mouth of a River in Holland. […] Once a beautiful work of art, now much ruined by most unskilful cleaning’ (see also note 23).
26 ‘In the Second Room, no. 75, a Sea Storm, by Backhuysen [=DPG327], and No. 92, A Calm, by W. Vandervelde, are equally excellent, the one for its gloomy turbulence, and the other for its glassy smoothness.’
27 ‘§15. The calms of Vandevelde. Let us next look at a piece of calm water, by Vandevelde, such as that marked 113 in the Dulwich Gallery. There is not a line or ripple of swell in any part of this sea; it is absolutely windless. Nothing can prevent the sea, when in such a state as this, from receiving reflections, because it is too vast and too frequently agitated to admit of anything like dry dust or scum on its surface, and however foul or thick a Dutch sea may be in itself, no internal filth can ever take away the polish and reflective power of the surface. Nor does Vandevelde appear to suppose it can, for the near boat casts its image with great fidelity, which being unprolonged downwards, informs us that the calm is perfect. But what is that underneath the vessel on the right? A grey shade, descending like smoke a little way below the hull, not of the colour of the hull, having no drawing nor detail in any part of it, and breaking off immediately, leaving the masts and sails entirely unrecorded in the water. §16 Their various violations of natural laws. We have here two kinds of falsehood. First, while the ship is nearly as clear as the boats, the reflection of the ship is a mere mist. This is false by Rule VI. Had the ship been misty, its shadow might have been so; not otherwise. Secondly, the reflection of the hull would in nature have been as deep as the hull is high, (or, had there been the slightest swell on the water, deeper,) and the masts and sails would all have been rendered with fidelity, especially their vertical lines. Nothing could by any possibility have prevented their being so, but so much swell on the sea as would have prolonged the hull indefinitely. Hence both the colour and the form of Vandevelde’s reflection are impossible. §17. Also proceeded from impotence, not from ignorance […] I think he estimated his own powers with great accuracy and correctness, but he is not on that account to be excused for casting defiance in the teeth of nature, and painting his surface with grey horizontal lines as is done by nautically disposed children; for no destruction of distance in the ocean is so serious a loss as that of its liquidity. It is better to feel a want of extent in the sea, than an extent which we might walk upon or play at billiards upon.§18. Their painful effect even on unobservant eyes. […] I cannot believe that any person who has ever floated on calm sea, can stand before this picture, without feeling that the whole of the water below the large ship looks like vapour or smoke. He may not know why […] but he must feel that something is wrong, and that the image before him is indeed “a painted ship – upon a painted ocean.” Perhaps the best way of educating the eye for the detection of falsehood is to stand before the Mill of Hobbima, No. 131 [DPG87], in which there is a bit of decently painted water, and glance from one picture to the other; when Vandevelde’s [DPG68] will soon become by comparison a perfect slate-table, having scarcely even surface or space to recommend it; for, in his ignorance of means to express proximity, the unfortunate Dutchman has been reduced to blacken his sea as it comes near, until by the time he reaches the frame it looks perfectly spherical, and is of the colour of ink. What Vandevelde ought to have done …’ (continues in his ch. 3: see the following note).
28 §6. The error of Vandevelde. And now we see what Vandevelde ought to have done with the shadow of his ship spoken of in the first chapter of this section [DPG68]. […] When we looked at the surface of the sea […] we should have seen the image of the hull absolutely clear and perfect, because that image is cast on distant water […] but we should have seen the image of the masts and sails gradually more confused as they descended, and the water close to us would have borne only upon its surface a maze of flashing colour and definite hue …’
29 ‘§17 Various licenses or errors in water painting of Claude, Cuyp, Vandevelde […] In the Vandevelde (113) there is not a line or ripple of swell in any part of the sea; it is absolutely windless, and the near boat casts its image with great fidelity, which being unprolonged downwards informs us that the calm is perfect (Rule V.), and being unshortened informs us that we are on a level with the water or nearly so (Rule VII.). Yet underneath the vessel on the right, the grey shade which stands for reflection breaks off immediately, descending like smoke a little way below the hull, then leaving the masts and sails entirely unrecorded. This I imagine to be not ignorance, but unjustifiable license. Vandevelde evidently desired to give an impression of great extent of surface, and thought that if he gave the reflection more faithfully, as the tops of the masts would come down to the nearest part of the surface, they would destroy the evidence of distance, and appear to set the ship above the boat, instead of beyond it. I doubt not in such awkward hands that such would have been the case, but he is not on that account to be excused for painting his surface with grey horizontal lines, as is done by nautically disposed children; for no destruction of distance in the ocean is so serious a loss as that of its liquidity. It is better to feel a want of extent in the sea, than an extent which we might walk upon, or play at billiards upon.’
30 ‘Several large and small vessels in a river, in perfectly calm water. This copious and extremely delicate picture is injured by cleaning. […] (No. 113.).’
31 In 1858 he cites Waagen: ‘This rich and extremely delicate picture is injured by cleaning’, and adds in 1859: ‘Indeed it is. It must once have been a beautiful picture.’
32 ‘Remarkable by its great clearness in tone.’
33 A. Sumner: ‘Criticised by Ruskin (who believed it to be autograph) in Modern Painters for the discrepancy between the perspective of the reflections cast by the near boat and those of that on the right, which may indeed be one of the indications that this is a – probably contemporary – copy.’
34 Robinson 1990, i, p. 355, no. 104 .
35 ibid., pp. 355–6, no. 104 .
36 ibid., pp. 356–7, no. 104 .
37 ibid., p. 357, no. 104 .
38 See notes 27–9.
39 Robinson suggested for this picture the title: ‘A Dutch Bezan Yacht Close to Port of a Watership at Anchor’, Robinson 1990, i, p. 355.
40 The famous 52.5-m-high lighthouse, built in 1593–4 and the oldest purpose-built lighthouse in the Netherlands, is still extant. Terschelling is one of the so-called ‘Wadden Islands’ on the north coast of the Netherlands, as is Vlieland, where a sister of Willem van de Velde I lived. On the relationship of the Van de Veldes with this area see Daalder 2016, pp. 81–2 and 187. With many thanks to Remmelt Daalder for notes sent to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 28 Mar. 2018 (DPG68 file).