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Willem van de Velde, Dutch Ships in a Calm

Key facts
Full title Dutch Ships in a Calm
Artist Willem van de Velde
Artist dates 1633 - 1707
Date made about 1660
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 35.7 × 43.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Mrs Alice Bleecker, 1981
Inventory number NG6465
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Dutch Ships in a Calm
Willem van de Velde

This exquisite little picture evokes the tranquillity of the early morning, perhaps – judging by the low, clear light and puffiness of the clouds – at the beginning of spring. The reflections in the calm water are perfect, undisturbed by the porpoises in the shadows. Two fishing boats appear on the left: a hoeker, its white sail brilliant in the sun, and a fishing buss with the arms of the city of Hoorn on the stern.

Willem van de Velde the Younger painted this around 1660 with his usual fine, accurate detail in the various craft, flags and coats of arms. He has signed it ‘WVV’ on the taffrail, directly under the golden horn on the fishing buss. The picture was painted for the family studio and was obviously very successful: at least eight other versions of it are known.

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