Essential Information

Type Exhibitions
Queen's House
Date and Times Exhibition ran from 2 March 2023 to 14 January 2024
Exhibition closed

In the winter of 1672-73, two celebrated Dutch artists arrived in London.

Willem van de Velde the Elder was renowned for his highly accurate drawings of ships and maritime life. He would even go to sea himself, paper in hand, to capture naval battles as they were raging.

His son, Willem van de Velde the Younger, was a famed painter. From calm coastal scenes to fierce storms, his work captured the many moods of the ocean.

King Charles II offered them a studio space at the Queen's House in Greenwich. Here they worked, creating royal commissions, magnificent paintings and tapestries, as well as thousands of detailed sketches, drawings and designs.

350 years after the Van de Veldes' arrival in England, The Van de Veldes: Greenwich, Art and the Sea followed the journey of these émigré artists, and explored how they changed the course of British maritime art.


J.M.W. Turner said that seeing a sea scene by Willem the Younger as a young man had 'made me a painter'. This show should bring the Van de Veldes a whole new generation of fans."

The Daily Telegraph

Who were the Van de Veldes?

The Van de Veldes were two of the most sought-after marine artists in 17th century Europe.

They were contemporaries of Rembrandt in the Dutch Republic, but were invited to live and work in England following the restoration of the monarchy.

The pair were given a studio in the Queen’s House in Greenwich and a salary of £100 a year each to create drawings and paintings of 'Sea Fights'. Yet their contribution to English art stretched far beyond the war and politics of the day.

The Van de Veldes are considered the founders of English marine painting, inspiring generations of artists including J.M.W. Turner. The National Maritime Museum has the largest collection of works by the Van de Veldes in the world.

"The Van de Velde collection at Greenwich is remarkable not only for its sheer size but for what it reveals about how a 17th-century artist’s studio functioned," says Dr Allison Goudie, Curator of Art. "This exhibition celebrates this extraordinary aspect of the Van de Velde collection here, and the unique connection it now has with the Queen’s House, the location of the Van de Veldes’ studio for over 20 years."

Behind the scenes

From huge tapestries to tiny brush strokes, find out more about the conservation work that made this exhibition possible.

Tap to begin

The Solebay Tapestry

The Burning of the Royal James at the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672 is a highlight of the exhibition, and the largest work of its kind in the collection. Find out more about the conservation work that secured the tapestry's future.

A Royal Visit to the Fleet

One of the most ambitious seascapes of its time, A Royal Visit to the Fleet in the Thames Estuary was painted by Willem van de Velde the Younger in the 17th century.

At almost four metres wide, the painting is one of the largest ever made by the artist. It depicts the meeting of King Charles II and his brother, James, Duke of York, on board the Prince in 1672.

Find out more about the vital conservation work that helped prepare the painting for display.

An image for 'A Royal Visit to the Fleet'

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Exhibition supported by the Pigott Family

Choose your tickets

The Van de Veldes: Greenwich, Art and the Sea is open from 2 March 2023, and is included as part of your free visit to the Queen's House. Pre-book now by visiting our ticketing site and selecting your preferred date using the calendar.

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