In the building where the painting was first started, a masterpiece is being restored to its former glory – and you can watch as it happens.
Visit the Queen's House to experience Conservation in Action.
See conservators work on one of the largest paintings in the collection and discover how they confront centuries of deterioration with care, craft and precision.
Plus find out more about the van de Veldes, the father-son duo who helped to transform British maritime art.
At almost four metres wide, the painting is one of the largest ever made by the artist.
Since 2020 Royal Museums Greenwich specialists have been carrying out vital conservation work on the painting. This treatment will enable the work to go on display and allow visitors to fully appreciate van de Velde's skill.
It has not been possible to display A Royal Visit to the Fleet in recent years due to the painting’s condition. Previous restoration treatments and the age of the work led to problems including discolouration, flaking and instability of the canvas.
Once the discoloured layers of varnish and overpaint are removed, the artist's original paint and brushwork can shine through. The team is now preparing to carry out the retouching stage, one of the most important parts of the whole conservation treatment.
The initial stages of the conservation were carried out at the Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre.
This is Royal Museums Greenwich's state-of-the-art conservation studio and storage centre. Even when the Museum was forced to close due to COVID-19, work inside the paintings studio continued.
The painting will now be transferred to the Queen's House as part of Conservation in Action.
Conservators will carry out further treatment inside the House itself, allowing visitors to see the painstaking work that goes into preparing a piece for display.
Follow the Fleet
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Plan your visit
Conservation in Action runs from 25 October - 3 December 2021. Conservators are expected to be working on the painting Monday-Saturday from 11am-4pm, although timings may vary.
The painting is located in the van de Velde Studio of the Queen's House. The room is located on the south side of the building on the ground floor. Download the floorplan below to help guide you, or ask for assistance from any of our staff and volunteers.
The Queen's House gallery and exhibitions are free, but you must have a timed entry ticket to visit. We recommend booking online in advance to avoid disappointment.
As restrictions in England ease, we want to ensure that all our visitors, staff and volunteers still feel safe and comfortable when exploring our sites.
Many of our COVID-19 safety measures will remain in place, including enhanced cleaning, safe distancing and ticketed entry. We highly recommend wearing a face covering at all indoor venues and enclosed spaces.
We hope you will support us in these measures.
Occasionally some room closures may affect your visit to the Queen's House.
For full details of affected dates, click here.
Who were the van de Veldes?
Willem van de Velde the Younger came to Greenwich from Amsterdam in 1672/3 with his father, marine artist Willem van de Velde the Elder.
They received a salary from Charles II and were given use of a studio in the Queen’s House. A Royal Visit to the Fleet was probably started in the 1670s, and finished more than a decade later.
The painting is a panoramic depiction of Charles II's visit to the English fleet in 1672. When painted, it was one of the most ambitious seascapes ever attempted.
Find more great art in Greenwich
Choose your tickets
Conservation in Action is open Monday-Saturday from 25 October - 3 December 2021. Click the ticket link below and book your free visit.
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|Individual: £50||Individual: £60|
|Family: from £65||Family: from £75|