Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Van de Velde, Willem (1633-1707)

VAN DE VELDE, WILLEM, the younger (1633–1707), painter, born at Amsterdam in 1633, was the pupil of his father, Willem Van de Velde (1610–1693) [q. v.], but seems to have learnt the technique of oil painting from Simon de Vlieger. His occupation during a large part of his life was probably the painting of oil pictures from his father's drawings. He most likely accompanied Willem senior to England in 1675, but there is no record of his presence there earlier than 1677. About 1686 he paid a short visit to Amsterdam. Both father and son were granted a pension of 100l. per annum by Charles II, the former ‘for taking and making draughts of sea fights,’ the latter ‘for putting the said draughts into colours.’ Van de Velde the younger made an enormous number of drawings. It is said that between 1778 and 1780 more than eight thousand were sold by auction. His pictures also are very numerous. Three hundred and twenty-nine are described in Smith's ‘Catalogue Raisonné,’ the great majority being in English private collections. Most of the great galleries are rich in his works, the Louvre being an exception. The National Gallery possesses fourteen examples, most of them very good. Many of his larger pictures represent actions between the English and Dutch fleets, and were painted presumably during his partnership with his father. On these he sometimes wrote the names of the ships engaged, and even of their commanders, also noting the presence of ‘V. Velde's Gallijodt’ or ‘mijn galligodt,’ when the vessel supplied by the Dutch government had enabled father and son to witness the actual meeting of the fleets. The charm of Van de Velde lies in his excellent sense of composition, in his fine drawing, in his lightness of hand and transparency of colour, and, in his best pictures, in his wonderful sense of atmosphere and aerial perspective. His lightness of hand and transparency often desert him in his pictures of storms, which are apt to be opaque and inky, and are therefore less prized than his calms. Lord Northbrook possesses a full-length portrait, in small, of Willem van de Velde in his studio, by Michiel van Musscher. Van de Velde died at Greenwich on 6 April 1707.

[Bryan's Dictionary; Kugler; Nagler; Walpole; Smith's Catalogue; Catalogue of The Hague Museum, 1895.]

W. A.