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Willem van de Velde, A Dutch Yacht saluting

Key facts
Full title A Dutch Yacht surrounded by Many Small Vessels, saluting as Two Barges pull alongside
Artist Willem van de Velde
Artist dates 1633 - 1707
Date made 1661
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 90 × 126 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG978
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Dutch Yacht saluting
Willem van de Velde

This is the largest and most elaborate of the pictures by Willem van de Velde the Younger in the National Gallery’s collection. Painted with the artist’s usual accuracy and fine detail, the depiction of a marine occasion fairly common in a seafaring nation like seventeenth-century Holland becomes spectacular and exciting. The central vessel is a Statenjacht (state yacht) flying the Dutch colours. The puff of smoke is cannon fire, a salute to the officials approaching in the barge alongside, which bears the coat of arms of Amsterdam.

The small pleasure yacht on the extreme right carries a pennant, the colours of which signify a private vessel. The blue panel on the pennant features a gold wreath with the initials ‘W/VV’ in the centre. This would perhaps suggest that van de Velde has portrayed the family yacht, though whether the people on board are the van de Veldes is open to question.

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