In the winter 1672/1673, Willem van de Velde the Elder and his son Willem van de Velde the Younger migrated to England. Here, King Charles II paid them a generous royal salary and gave them studio space in the Queen’s House, Greenwich, where they worked for some 20 years.
In 2023, the Queen’s House hosts a special exhibition to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Van de Veldes’ migration to England. This exhibition explores their time working in the Queen’s House, their relationship with their royal patrons and the practice of their prolific London studio.
At the heart of the exhibition are two newly conserved masterpieces that were conceived in the Queen’s House: our tapestry of the Battle of Solebay, the cartoons for which were laid out here, and Van de Velde the Younger’s monumental painting A Royal Visit to the Fleet, likely begun in the Van de Veldes’ studio in the south side of the house.
The exhibition also showcases a selection of the museum’s 1400 Van de Velde drawings, newly digested thanks to the generosity of the Getty Paper Project. Drawings were central to the Van de Veldes’ success, and by the time the Van de Veldes’ moved to England, their sizeable back catalogue of drawings had become the studio’s greatest asset. Ongoing research explores the organization and storage of these valuable works. An evocation of their working studio is presented in the room known today as the Van de Velde Studio, where it is documented that they worked.
The exhibition is curated by Allison Goudie and Imogen Tedbury, Art Curators at Royal Museums Greenwich.