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Lot n° 15


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Ships on rough
seas Around 1650
13.5 x 19 cm
Monogrammed lower left

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The three-masted ship caught in the turmoil of a raging sea is the focus of the viewer's attention in this drawing.
Willem van de Velde the Elder established his fame through his depictions of the Dutch Golden Age marines. He was appointed official artist of the Dutch navy and witnessed some of the greatest battles that he remembered in his drawings, such as the Battle of the Four Days (1-4 June 1666) and the Battle of North Foreland (25 July 1666). Although his production is relatively limited, most of his works are greyish drawings on white paper, with a precision and finish that brings them close to paintings, earning them the qualification of penschilderijen (pencil paintings).
These penschilderijen were part of a long tradition of drawing with pen, ink and brush imitating the technique of engraving, since Hendrick
Goltzius (1558-1617). This art required a neutral plaster background covered with a layer of white lead that dried for several months in order to accommodate the drawing. Van de Velde the Elder was probably the inventor of this rare technique applied to his marines, or at least the main promoter. His fame led him to be coveted by England, and in 1672 he entered the service of Charles II of England, whose kingdom was then at war with Holland.

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