-The Resolution, serving as Admiral Sir Thomas Allin’s flagship in the Mediterranean in 1668, hence the Union flag at the main.
Van de Velde’s famous painting, probably commissioned by Allin, (1678) shows her contending against a strong gale.
(NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM, GREENWICH)
In the foreground is the ‘Resolution’, in port-quarter view, close-hauled on the port tack. Her topsails are neatly furled, she has a Union flag at the main and flies a red ensign. ‘Resolution’ was one of the first of the 70-gun two-deckers, built at Harwich in 1667 and rebuilt in 1698. She was flagship of Sir Thomas Allin in 1668-70, the Union at the main signifying his role at that time as ‘Admiral of a Fleet to the Streights’ (of Gibraltar), or, in more familiar terms, commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. His fleet consisted of three third-rates, eleven fourth-rates and four fifth-rates, with three fire-ships, two ketches and a storeship.
As Vice-Admiral he had Sir Edward Spragge in the ‘Revenge’ and, as Rear-Admiral, Sir John Harman in the ‘St David’ – who both operated separately on occasions in their continuing war to protect English merchant shipping against Barbary pirates. The picture is therefore presumably a commission from Allin and was done from several drawings the artist made of the subject. It may be based on Allin’s reminiscence of a storm on 14 December 1669, of which he gives a brief account in his journal (also in the National Maritime Museum but edited by R.C. Anderson for the Navy Records Society; 2 vols., 1939-40).
Close ahead of the ‘Resolution’ is another two-decker with a common pendant at the masthead but no ensign or jack.
The artist was younger son of Willem van de Velde the Elder. Born in Leiden, he studied under Simon de Vlieger in Weesp and in 1652 moved back to Amsterdam. He worked in his father’s studio and developed the skill of carefully drawing ships in tranquil settings. He changed his subject matter, however, when he came with his father to England in 1672-73, by a greater concentration on royal yachts, men-of-war and storm scenes. From this time painting sea battles for Charles II and his brother (and Lord High Admiral) James, Duke of York, and other patrons, became a priority. Unlike his father’s works, however, they were not usually eyewitness accounts. After his father’s death in 1693 his continuing role as an official marine painter obliged him to be more frequently present at significant maritime events. The painting is signed ‘W.V.Velde J’.
A son of Willem van de Velde the Elder, also a painter of sea-pieces, Willem van de Velde, the younger, was instructed by his father, and afterwards by Simon de Vlieger, a marine painter of repute at the time, and had achieved great celebrity by his art before he came to London. He was also influenced by the work of the Dutch maritime artist Jan van de Cappelle, who excelled at painting cloudy skies, the clouds often being reflected in the calm waters. The younger Van de Velde collaborated with his father, an experienced draughtsman, who prepared studies of the battles, events and seascapes while the son painted the pictures. Father and son were driven from the Netherlands by the political and economic conditions which resulted from war with the French, and by 1673, had moved to England. Here he was engaged by Charles II, at a salary of £100, to aid his father in “taking and making draughts of sea-fights”, his part of the work being to reproduce in color the drawings of the elder Van de Velde. He was also patronized by the Duke of York and by various members of the nobility.
He died on 6 April 1707 in London, England, and was buried at St James’s Church, Piccadilly. A memorial to him and his father lies within the church. A memorial to Willem van de Velde the Older and the Younger in St James’s Church, Piccadilly.
His brother, Adriaen van de Velde, was also an artist.
Edited by: EZorrilla.