Willem van de Velde the Elder and his son Willem van de Velde the Younger were the leading marine painters of the 17th century. 

From their studio in the Queen’s House, father and son transformed marine painting in Britain. Yet their paintings only tell part of the story.

Royal Museums Greenwich is home to almost 1,500 drawings by the Van de Veldes. Together they provide a fascinating insight into the world of a 17th-century artist's studio, and show how drawing was at the heart of their creative process: subjects sketched, ideas tested and inspiration shared.

Three hundred and fifty years after they were first made, these delicate works on paper still catch the eye and capture the imagination. Take a closer look, and discover the art of the Van de Veldes.

Search the whole collection

Explore the entire Van de Velde drawings archive online at Royal Museums Greenwich

Art that inspires

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Our partners

This project has been made possible with support from the Getty Foundation through The Paper Project initiative.


Curator of Art and Project Lead Curator: Dr Allison Goudie

Paper Conservation Manager: Emmanuelle Largeteau

Digital production: James Gill and Elizabeth Oliver

Video production: Tailored Media

A Sea of Drawings builds on the conservation research project on the Royal Museums Greenwich Van de Velde drawings undertaken in 2012-2014, led by Clara de la Peña McTigue (now Lead Paper Conservator at National Galleries of Scotland) and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.