In this picture, Willem van de Velde the Younger displays his skills as an exceptionally gifted painter of ships. Each vessel here is accurately depicted. An English ketch in the foreground flies the flag of Saint George, and a weyschuit (a small open boat) moves almost alongside it. To the left, broadside on, is a Dutch merchant ship with a smalschip, or smallship, nosing in beside it. In the distance are various craft of different sizes, capacity and purpose, all of which van de Velde has portrayed with the vigour and attention to detail his clients expected.
The sea is flat and calm. The boats are still, with almost no activity on board, and flags droop. But the low horizon allows for a wide sky with puffy clouds serenely drifting along, and gives space for the intricate geometry of masts, rigging and curved sails that bring life and vitality to the painting.
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