Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Van de Velde, Willem (1610-1693)

VAN DE VELDE, WILLEM (1610–1693), painter, born at Leyden in 1610, was in boyhood a sailor, but before he was twenty he had already won a certain reputation as a painter of marine subjects. These he executed sometimes in bistre, heightened with white, sometimes in oil, in black and white. His skill won him the patronage of the Dutch states, who put at his disposal a small vessel, in which he could follow the fleets, and even come to very close quarters, during the numerous actions with the English. In 1675 he received an invitation to the English court, in which he performed the same offices as for the states of the Netherlands. He seems to have never left this country again. He was buried in St. James's Church, Piccadilly, where his tombstone bears the following inscription: ‘Mr. William van de Velde, senior, late painter of sea-fights to their Majesties King Charles II and King James II, died in 1693.’ Many of his ‘draughts’ seem to have been carried out in oil by his son, Willem van de Velde the younger [q. v.], but a certain number of effective but rather coarsely painted ‘marines’ are probably by himself. Of such are the twelve sea-battles at Hampton Court Palace and a large picture of ‘Fleets at Sea’ in the National Gallery of Ireland.

[Bryan's Dictionary; Walpole's Anecdotes; Nagler.]

W. A.