By Bethany Shepard 5:41 pm PST

Willem van de Velde the Younger, who was born in Leiden, Netherlands, on December 18, 1633, was a prominent painter known for his maritime art. He began maritime oil paintings at a very young age and quickly reached the pinnacle of achievement.

Willem van de Velde was a descendent of painters. Willem van de Velde the Elder’s father was also a marine painter. Adriaen van de Velde, Willem’s younger brother, specialized in landscape painting.

Van de Velde’s greatest influence was his father, who instructed him in maritime painting. His father’s instruction piqued van de Velde’s interest in sea paintings from an early age.

Later, he was educated by the renowned maritime painter Simon de Vlieger, who once worked in Weesp.

Before the Storm, c. 1700. (Corcoran Collection (William A. Clark Collection)/public domain-National Gallery of Art)

Another renowned Dutch painter who influenced van de Velde was Jan van de Cappelle. This Dutch painter used his skill to depict gloomy skies reflected in placid waters and was the source of inspiration for many of van de Velde’s works.

Van de Velde married twice. At the time of his first marriage, he resided in Buitenkant. His first wife, Patronella Le Maire, was from Weesp. The relationship ended in divorce. He then married Magdalena Walravens, the daughter of a captain, in 1656. They had four children.

Because van de Velde’s father was an acclaimed painter of his day, son and father worked together to create the paintings. His father was also an accomplished draftsman. He utilized black and white or ink paintings to create seascapes, conflict and event studies.

The burning of HMS Royal James at the battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672. (Image: Wikimedia Commons/Royal Museums Greenwich )

When the father was working on ink paintings, the son worked on oil paintings. As a result of the Dutch-French war, both father and son emigrated to England due to the bad economic and political climate in Netherlands. After leaving the Netherlands and deciding to stay in England, van de Velde and his father earned royal appointments from Charles II, the Duke of York, and other members of the aristocracy.

The ‘Gouden Leeuw’ at the Battle of the Texel, 21 August 1673. (Image: Wikimedia Commons/Royal Museums Greenwich)

In 1674, King Charles II employed both the father and son for £100 a year. Willem the Elder was ordered by King Charles II to “draw and record marine battles.” Willem the Young was responsible for coloring reproductions of his father’s drawings. All of Willem van de Velde’s works from the 1650s reveal the influence of his father’s meticulous pen paints and drawings of the atmospheric coasts of De Vlieger.

He was recognized as one of the most significant maritime painters of the seventeenth century, specializing in painting ships and the sea with sensitivity and complexity. His compositions frequently incorporated depictions of boats and coastal beach landscapes. In addition, his works showed his keen observations of the movements of clouds and lights over calm and turbulent waters.

Great Britain, departure of the Dutch fleet from the Vlie anchorage on june, 9, 1645, drawing 1650. Willem van de Velde the Oude was a Dutch Golden Age seascape painter. (image: © Rob Lumen Captum |

Famous van de Velde paintings include the following: A Dutch Ship and Other Small Vessels in a Breeze and Dutch Vessels Resting Inshore in a Calm, One Saluting.

Willem van de Velde. A Dutch Ship, a Yacht and Smaller Vessels in a Breeze. (Image: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)/ the National Gallery)
Willem van de Velde. Dutch Vessels lying Inshore in a Calm, one Saluting. (Image: ttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)/The National Gallery)

Large collections of van de Velde’s paintings and drawings can be found in the Wallace Collection, the National Gallery, and the National Maritime Museum in London. In addition, his works are also shown in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Rijksmuseum in his hometown of Amsterdam.

Willem van de Velde passed away on April 6, 1707, at Westminster, England, where he spent his dying days. He was interred at St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, where a memorial was erected to commemorate the great deeds of both father and son.