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Willem van de Velde, Small Dutch Vessels Aground at Low Water in a Calm

Key facts
Full title Small Dutch Vessels Aground at Low Water in a Calm
Artist Willem van de Velde
Artist dates 1633 - 1707
Date made about 1660
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 32.9 × 36.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2574
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Small Dutch Vessels Aground at Low Water in a Calm
Willem van de Velde

Four small boats are gently run aground in an inlet on a sandy shore. The tide is out, the sea is calm and a man with a basket wades into the picture. Some fishermen are barefoot, others tend their craft without hurry. Sails hang up to dry in the sun and the Dutch flags on the mast tops droop. In the distance, bigger ships wait for the tide in a misty haze; the horizon is hidden. Puffy clouds drift across the sky, and there is a feeling of summer, heat and timelessness.

Such paintings were very popular in seventeenth-century Holland, a country whose prosperity was linked to the sea. Willem van de Velde the Younger worked in the family studio producing marine paintings with his father Willem the Elder and his brother Adriaen, who was also a landscape painter. It’s thought that this picture was a collaboration between Willem the Younger and studio assistants.

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