Willem van de Velde the Elder 1611-1693
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Willem van de Velde the Elder 1611-1693

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A view across a busy harbour, with two Fluyts at anchor surrounded by smaller vessels and a larger ship underway beyond.

A pen grisaille (“penschilderij”) on oak panel size 20 x 26.5 inches / 50.8 x 67.3 cm.

Signed lower left corner “W V Velde”

Provenance: From an old private collection.

Drawn circa 1645-50. Previously unpublished.

Willem Van de Velde the elder was born in Leiden, the son of Willem Willemszoon van de Velde, master of a transport vessel which worked for the States government. He spent his entire life drawing ships and small craft and was much in demand for his meticulously detailed grisailles (penschilderingen or ‘pen paintings’ drawn in ink on a prepared white canvas or oak panel). He was frequently at sea with the Dutch fleet, sometimes as an independent observer, sometimes in an official capacity, and he was present at several of the major sea battles of the Anglo-Dutch Wars.