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Willem van de Velde, Dutch Vessels Inshore and Men Bathing

Key facts
Full title Dutch Vessels close Inshore at Low Tide, and Men Bathing
Artist Willem van de Velde
Artist dates 1633 - 1707
Date made 1661
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 63.2 × 72.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG871
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Dutch Vessels Inshore and Men Bathing
Willem van de Velde

High, light clouds drift across the wide sky. All seems quiet at the end of the day. A man with a fishing basket strapped to his back squelches across the wet sand left by the ebbing tide, and the sun is still warm enough for a group of men and boys to skinny-dip in the shallow water. Clothes are hung out to dry on the kaag (an inshore transport vessel) on the left, while overhead the Dutch flag shifts in the faint breeze and the long white spritsail begins to fill, glowing with sunlight. Further out to sea a fleet of warships is anchored.

The picture is signed on the horizontal stump of wood on the left: W. V. Velde 1661. This painting is one of the finest of the early works of Willem van de Velde the Younger. There are four versions of the scene, but it is this one that shows the hand of the master most clearly.

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