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Willem van de Velde, A Small Dutch Vessel close-hauled in a Strong Breeze

Key facts
Full title A Small Dutch Vessel close-hauled in a Strong Breeze
Artist Willem van de Velde
Artist dates 1633 - 1707
Date made about 1672
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 32.7 × 40.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG876
Location Room 19
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Small Dutch Vessel close-hauled in a Strong Breeze
Willem van de Velde

An angry light breaks through threatening clouds, illuminating a wave that beats up against the side of a galjoot, the small boat keeling over with the wind. An explosion of white spray looks almost as if it is reaching up to swallow the man hauling in the foresail. The blue and white flag at the masthead indicates that the boat is from Texel, a busy island city in North Holland; it may be a pilot going out to assist an incoming ship. Ahead is a huge warship, its pennant flying – one in a fleet of Dutch naval vessels that disappear into the distance.

The storm scene was painted in the Amsterdam studio of Willem van de Velde the Elder by his son, Willem the Younger. Such pictures may seem unlikely as decorative items but they were popular, perhaps because they were exciting. In this one there is also a touch of reassurance from the hint of blue in the sky and the sun on the sail of the galjoot.

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