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Rijksmuseum presents unknown Willem van de Velde painting

The Rijksmuseum presents an unknown Willem van de Velde masterpiece, Dutch ships on a calm sea, on view now.

Willem van de Velde Dutch ships on a calm sea

Dutch ships on a calm sea (Hollandse schepen op een kalme zee), ca. 1665, is now on view to the public for the first time in more than a century. Until now it has been held in a private collection. Already acclaimed in the 18th century, the painting was referred to as ‘one of the greatest gems by this outstanding seascape artist’. The painting was not only praised for its astounding detail, but also for its serene harmony. The Rijksmuseum has the painting on long-term loan from the Broere Foundation Collection.

Dutch ships on a calm sea
Six warships are depicted on a panoramic, calm sea, busy hoisting their sails and weighing their anchors. The stern of the second largest vessel in the foreground is decorated with the coats of arms of Amsterdam, held up by two lions standing on their hind legs. The scene is probably of a small squadron preparing to sail out. Distinguished figures, probably from the Admirality, row in sloops to the flourish of trumpets and the firing of salutes, while in the background one of the ships takes in the last stores and crew. The great level of accuracy in the details of the depiction of the rigs, sails and canons is striking. –

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