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Art of the van de Veldes
Location: Queen's House, floor one - South-West Parlour (see floor plans)
Please note: This gallery may occasionally be closed. Please see Latest visitor information for all details of closures.
Willem van de Velde the Elder and the Younger in Holland and England, 1650–1700
In 1673–74, Dutch artists the van de Veldes (father and son) moved from Amsterdam to paint for the English market in London, notably for Charles II.
Their presence, and the flourishing studio they established in the Queen’s House in Greenwich, laid the foundations for the practice of marine painting in England in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Van de Velde the Younger and contemporaries
(Leiden, 1633–London, 1707)
Van de Velde the Younger started painting in the late 1640s, probably under the guidance of the marine painter, Simon de Vlieger. At that time the most important types of Dutch painting were genre pieces, portraiture and landscape, since there was increasing interest in naturalistic representation of the scenery of Holland.
Although marine painting was already well established, it was closely related to landscape painting. This can be seen in the pictures in this room, with their sometimes dramatic depictions of the changing light and weather along the Dutch coast.
Van de Velde the Elder
Pen-paintings (Leiden, 1611–London, 1693)
Van de Velde the Elder was essentially a draughtsman rather than a painter. During the 1640s he worked independently, making drawings of shipping. From the outbreak of the First Anglo-Dutch War in 1652 he worked for the Dutch government, who gave him the use of a small sailing craft from which he was able to make drawings from life, sometimes of battles.
He was one of the pioneers of pen-painting (penschilderij). This process involved drawing detailed pictures with a pen and black pigment on a prepared white wooden panel, or occasionally canvas. His pen paintings, austere in their dark wood frames, are among the masterpieces of the Golden Age of Dutch painting.
The van de Veldes in England
In June 1672, when the Dutch economy was suffering badly during their last short sea-war with England, Charles II invited Dutch craftsmen to settle here. The van de Veldes were among those who came and soon they began their first major commission for the king – designs for a set of tapestries commemorating the Battle of Solebay, fought in May 1672.
From 1674 they were paid regular salaries and were given a south-facing room in the Queen's House as a studio, for which three pairs of shutters to control the light were ordered the following year. They also used the upper floor of the House to lay out their tapestry designs and appear to have worked here until 1692.