Men of war at anchor in a calm

Men of war at anchor in a calm


This is probably the work of a studio assistant of Willem van de Velde II (the Younger). According to Michael Strang Robinson (Van de Velde: A Catalogue of the Paintings of the Elder and Younger Willem van de Velde, London, 1990), it is in the sails, rigging and flags that the picture falls below the standard of accuracy that marks his work. It is a calm seascape, with men of war at anchor, surrounded by several small rowing boats full of passengers. There is a prominent small vessel in the foreground, with a man rowing in its bows. The man of war on the right, shown nearly stern view, on the port quarter, bears the arms of Zeeland (a lion rising from the sea), on her taffrail, the Dutch flag at the mainmast and a blue/green ensign with a large unidentified device on it. On her port bow, a States Yacht fires a salute to starboard. Close ahead of the yacht, viewed over the port beam, a large man of war fires a salute to port. The largest boat in the left foreground is a flute-sterned ketch. There is a large vessel anchored in the middle distance beyond. There is a clouded sky and the sea is a glassy flat calm. Robinson suggests that the picture may show part of Van Wassenaer's fleet in 1664 lying in the Haringvliet between Hellevoetsluis and Goedereede. The ship on the right may be the Hof van Zeeland, under Admiral Jan Evertsen. The ship ahead might then be the Oosterwijk of Vice-Admiral Cornelis Tromp. The yacht with the yellow ensign may be the yacht of the States-General that visited the fleet in 1664, as shown in the picture in the Thyssen Collection at Castagnola (Robinson, 1990, no. 158). The most famous of the Dutch seascape painters, Willem van de Velde II studied first with the great marine painter, Simon de Vlieger. During the 1650s and 1660s, his output was characterised by a series of ‘calms'. When he came to London at the invitation of Charles II in 1672, Willem van de Velde II brought the Dutch seascape tradition to England. In the 1670s, he began painting portraits of particular types of ships, such as men of war. This would have been painted in Holland, c.1665. It is a typical example of the skill of this painter and his workshop at accurately depicting all kinds of shipping.

Object Name

Men of war at anchor in a calm


unframed: 64.4cm x 80.5cm
framed: 82cm x 97.6cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Bequeathed by Mr and Mrs Assheton-Bennett.


© Manchester Art Gallery

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