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Willem van de Velde II came from one of the greatest seventeenth
century families of Dutch masters; his father, Willem van de Velde I
(1611-1693), was a first rate draughtsman of marines, whose love of the
sea and ships was inherited by his youngest son. Adriaen van de Velde
(1636-1672), Willem II's older brother, excelled in the pastoral
landscape. Willem II was influenced by his father, and, especially in
the early part of his career, also by his contemporaries, Simon de
Vlieger and Abraham van Beyeren.
Willem II’s early works are highly finished and
carefully crafted. As he matured, his style broadened and he achieved
his effects with a greater economy of brushstrokes. His palette also
evolved from the earlier predominant grays and blues to the warmer
browns of his English period. Willem II was also a draughtsman
throughout his career, and he continuously executed highly detailed
renderings of ships and other scenes as studies for his paintings. His
ships are portrayed with an almost photographic accuracy, and are the
most precise guides available for the appearance of 17th century ships.
Willem van de Velde II enjoyed enormous success in his lifetime, with
royal patronage from King Charles II of England.