CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Maritime power: war journalism in the 17th century

Exhibition: 10 November 2006 - 27 February 2007

From the Rijksmuseum website

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol presents this winter at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol an unique exhibition of paintings and drawings by Willem van de Velde the Elder (1611-1693) and Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707). Father and son Van de Velde produced eye-witness reports of fierce naval battles that took place between the fleets of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands and England. Their works are some of the earliest examples of war journalism.

Maritime power: war journalism in the 17th century can be seen from 10 November 2006 until 27 February 2007 in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol, behind passport control between piers E and F. Admission is free.

Naval battles

The Republic of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands fought a number of major battles at sea in the seventeenth century. The ink was hardly dry on the Treaty of M√ľnster (1648), which brought an end to the Dutch Revolt against Spain, when the wars against England started. These naval battles, in which fleets of more than a hundred ships bombarded each other, were of unprecedented proportions. These were the years of such great naval heroes of Dutch history as Maarten Harpersz Tromp and Michiel Adriaansz de Ruyter.

Impressive paintings

Father and son Van de Velde witnessed a number of these naval battles. They were sailing on a ‘galliot’, a small sailing ship made available by the Dutch admirals and from where they sketched and took notes. Back in their studio, they developed these into impressive paintings. The elder Van de Velde specialised in pen-painting, a technique in which the events were drawn with pen and black ink on a white background. The younger Van de Velde, who had a highly developed feeling for weather conditions and for light and atmosphere, painted in colour.

Works on display

At Maritime power: war journalism in the 17th century paintings can be seen of The Four Days battle, the most famous battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1666, and rolls of sketches and notes from the Battle of Scheveningen on 10 August 1653 in which Admiral Tromp met his death. Alongside one of the pen-paintings by Van de Velde the Younger, a painting of that same Van de Velde by Lodewijk van der Helst (1642-after 1682) can also be seen at the exhibition. Nine works will be on display.