Essential Information

Type Conferences
National Maritime Museum
Date and Times 12 January 2024
Prices Adults £30 | Members, online, students, unemployed or underemployed, retired, early career researchers £20

Members discount. Not a member? Join now

Between the 15th and 18th centuries, European tapestry centres grew in parallel with maritime nations. The same kings, nobles and governments who invested in tapestry and tapestry workshops were also investing in navies and trading companies. This dual interest led to maritime tapestry commissions which, while less common than other subjects, resulted in politically and culturally significant works of art.   

Maritime tapestries pose a particular set of challenges in their conservation and display within museums. As well as issues arising from size and weight, which affect all tapestries, the structural integrity of maritime tapestries is often further compromised by the expanses of fragile silk present in their depictions of water and sky. Their representation of real battle events also brings in issues of authenticity and the need to balance stability and accuracy in conservation work.  

Occasioned by the recent conservation of tapestries depicting the Battle of Solebay designed by the marine artists Willem van de Velde the Elder and Willem van de Velde the Younger, this symposium offers the first exploration of maritime tapestry as a genre.

The programme includes sessions on both the history and conservation of maritime tapestry, chaired by Helen Wyld and Ksynia Marko, as well as discussion on how historical research and conservation practices inform one another. Speakers include Zenzie Tinker, Koenraad Broesens, Caroline Van Santen, Stacey Clapperton, Sara Reiter, Alice Young and Maya Wassell Smith.   

This hybrid conference warmly invites people from all backgrounds to attend in person or online. If you have any questions about the programme, registration or accessibility, please email research@rmg.co.uk. Lunch and refreshments are provided. Attendees are also encouraged to enjoy the final days of the exhibition, The Van de Veldes: Greenwich, Art and the Sea.


9.30-10.00 Registration and refreshments

Morning session: The History of Maritime Tapestries 

10.00-10.30 Caroline Van Santen (Zeeuwse Museum) - The Zeeland Tapestries 

10.30-11.00 Maya Wassell Smith (Royal Museums Greenwich) - Between Marine Painting and Marine Tapestry: The Solebay Tapestries 

11.00-11.10 Break 

11.10-11.40 Koenraad Brosens (University of Leuven) – The Unlikelihood of Maritime Tapestry 

11.40 –12.10 Stacey Clapperton (Parliamentary Art Collection) - The Recreation of the Palace of Westminster’s Armada Tapestries, c.1592-2010 

12.10-12.30 Question and answer for morning session  

12.30-14.00 Lunch

Afternoon session: The Conservation of the Solebay Tapestries 

14.00-14.30 Alice Young (Historic Royal Palaces) – Piecing Together the Past to Inform the Future: The Restoration and Conservation of Five Solebay Tapestries 

14.30-15.00 Zenzie Tinker (Zenzie Tinker Conservation) - Silk, Sea and Sky: Conserving The Burning of the Royal James

15.00-15.30 Sara Reiter (Philadelphia Museum of Art) – Condition and Storage: The Solebay Tapestries in Philadelphia 

15.30 - 15.50 Question and answer for afternoon session 

15.50 -16.10 Break 

16.10 -17.00 Roundtable session  

17.00 End 

Solebay tapestry conservator close up with needle


Adults | £30

Members | £20

Online | £20 

Students, unemployed or underemployed, retired, early career researchers | £20

Tickets include access to the talks and recordings, an exclusive viewing of the Solebay Tapestry, refreshments and lunch.

Book your tickets here