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Art Diary

The Van de Veldes: Greenwich, Art and the Sea

24 February 2023

On the invitation of King Charles II, the esteemed Dutch marine painters Willem van der Velde the Elder and his son, Willem van de Velde the Younger emigrated to England in 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War. This exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich (2 March–14 January 2024) marks 350 years since the painters’ arrival in the country and reveals how their dramatic depictions of naval battles and historical events went on to inspire future generations of artists, including J.W.M Turner. The Queen’s House served as a studio and home for the father and son for almost 20 years and many of the works on display were created here, including the vast A Royal Visit to the Fleet in the Thames Estuary, 1672 (1672)spanning almost four metres in width, it is among van de Velde the Younger’s largest paintings. Also on show is The Burning of the Royal James at the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672 (1672), otherwise known as ‘The Solebay Tapestry’. Originally part of a set of six, the monumental tapestry has recently been conserved by Royal Museum of Greenwich in partnership with the Art Fund; this is the first time it has been exhibited to the public in over 20 years. Find out more at the Royal Museum of Greenwich’s website.

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The Departure of William of Orange and Princess Mary for Holland, November 1677 (1677), Willem Van de Velde the Younger. © National Maritime Museum, London

The Burning of the Royal James at the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672 (1672) designed by Willem Van de Velde the Elder, made by Thomas Poyntz. © National Maritime Museum, London