Completed Maritime Subjects 6 Is this painting 'circle of' or 'after' Willem van de Velde II?

Topic: Artist

This painting may be directly after a Willem van de Velde II, but even if not certainly by a follower of. Compare, for example:

This composition is no.310, on pp.496–497 in volume one of Michael Robinson's catalogue of van de Velde oil paintings. His title of it is 'A smalschip with other vessels in an inlet on the Dutch coast'. He recorded three known versions:

1. At the Alan Jacobs Gallery, London, in 1982 (illustrated p.496), 44.8 x 55.7 cm on canvas, which he judged best of the three and painted substantially by van de Velde II about 1665, with studio help.

2. At Knoedler's, London in 1928, 46.3 x 54.7 cm on canvas, painted to a large extent by the van de Velde studio.

3. A slightly smaller one on panel, 33.5 x 47.5 cm which he judged a late eighteenth-century copy but one suggesting that a fourth version existed from which it might have been copied, by comparison of detail (only made from photos) in the other two.

The points interesting about this one are that it has been where it now is much longer than any of the above, since it is a bequest of 1918. I also doubt that it is the hypothetical fourth version from which the third in the list above was copied, since it appears to differ from all those Michael lists by having the three very distant ships shown at far right, which they don't. His illustrated first example just has the fourth from the right (with the low vessel immediately left of it and then the closer ship broadside on) and none of the small differences he lists in the second and third.

In short, it is a so far unidentified version or copy. Which is hard to tell, but worth further enquiry. The painting of the sky is much looser, both in the density of cloud and with rougher brushwork than his illustrated first example, so it is a distinct variant though otherwise very alike.

The NICE paintings entry says: 'The painting is probably Dutch in origin and eighteenth-century in date, although the identity of the artist is unknown', giving a date range of 1700 to 1770. To that the response has to be that van de Velde II died in 1707, after over 30 years in London, and while the subject and manner is Dutch, it isn't necessarily a native Dutch hand doing the 'version'.

One obviously can't call it even 'studio' of Willem van de Velde at this stage but it is either possibly 'circle of', if early, or 'after', if later. Other views on the line one might take would be useful.

Pieter van der Merwe, Maritime Subjects, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. Art UK will be amended with the information that this painting is believed to be after Willem van de Velde II and an alternative title ('A smalschip with other vessels in an inlet on the Dutch coast') added.

Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Just to clarify the non sequitur at the start of the above: the initial three lines down to and including the first link were a question I posted long ago, off the cuff, when I first came across this image on Art UK.

The initial collection response came back a couple of days ago when I had the van de Velde catalogue to hand and looked it up: i.e. a collection response and brief exchange with the PCF has been omitted here, running two separate comments together, the first now superseded by what follows.

James Mitchell,

Surely, in dealing with the 'imposing, but often complex and confusing edifice' (R.Daalder, 2016) that is Robinson's catalogue, we cannot set too much store by the term 'circle'? He would have it that nearly every known painting bears, to a greater or lesser extent, some degree of studio participation, and that the term 'substantially' is usually the nearest he ever gets to giving a picture in full to Willem the Younger (an absurd assertion anyway). The Erewash picture here is, IHMO and without studying the original, nothing more than a copy of the ex-Alan Jacobs picture, and may have been done as much as a century afterwards. We know that Monamy and others reproduced Van de Velde compositions, especially ones like this with the foreshore exposed at low-tide, and the dark 'repoussoir' figure in the foreground even looks like those in Monamy's work. Also, the facts that publishers were issuing engravings of Van de Velde pictures in private collections even in the mid-1760s (e.g Boydell, after P.C.Canot), and Dominic Serres was making full-size copies of the Younger's pictures (e.g. signed and dated Serres painting with Alfred Cohen, London), remind us that re-hashing a Van de Velde was 'fair game' many decades after their time.

I agree that the Alan Jacobs picture is either the 'original' or the closest known survivor to it. None of them, however, have the three small vessels at far right, so this is a variant, of whatever status as regards hand(s). I doubt its by Monamy, and there's no evidence it was engraved, so whoever did it is working from another version. We won't get any further unless someone produces suggested copyist name(s), which is perhaps unlikely, and comparisons on screen are also unlikely to be conclusive anyway. I think the best thing is to leave it open for a while, but with fair warning that the likely recommendation will be 'after'.

Michael R. once told me, in a standing conversation in the NMM where I couldn't write it down, that he thought we had six (out of 40-plus) van de Velde the Younger oils that he considered 'autograph' - by which I assume he meant as close as makes no difference, since the idea of anyone working solely alone without a studio 'hired help' of some sort is ananchronistic. The only two I recall were the 'Gouden Leeuw' at the Battle of the Texel painted for Cornelis Tromp - and in that case because he painted it while in Amsterdam during a visit there, away from his London studio, in 1686 - and the arrival of the Princess Mary at Gravesend in 1689, though I've not checked what he says in the catalogue on them.

As above, I suggest we call a halt on this for the time being as 'after Willem van de Velde II' and with the title changed to that provided by Robinsonfor the related variants : 'A smalschip with other vessels in an inlet on the Dutch coast'.

Edward Stone,

The collection has been contacted about this recommendation.