From the museum website, 17 December 2013
The National Maritime Museum has the world’s largest collection of drawings from the studio of Willem van de Velde the Elder (c.1611–1693) and Younger (1633–1707). This encompasses over 1600 works, which embrace every aspect of the artists’ long and productive output, from naval battles to scenes of calm and storm at sea, coastal views and ship portraits.
Celebrating the completion of a two-year conservation project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, this display shows a selection of the drawings which have been closely examined and treated by our Conservation Department. Some of the works will be on public display for the first time.
Together, the drawings give a rare insight into the materials and techniques of the van de Veldes’ studio, inspiring the viewer to look at these artworks from a different standpoint. In time, the drawings not only suffered damage, but underwent alterations according to collectors’ tastes and preferences. The question of how to conserve the drawings whilst preserving their historical evidence will also be examined.
The exhibition is adjacent to the Art of the van de Veldes gallery, a space dedicated to the artists’ paintings in the South-West Parlour of the Queen’s House. In 1673 the van de Veldes established their studio there, where they worked for more than 20 years.