For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at An English Galliot at Sea Running Before a Strong Wind (c. 1690) by Willem van de Velde II.
About the Work
Title : An English Galliot at Sea Running Before a Strong Wind
Artist : Willem van de Velde II
Year : c. 1690
Medium : Oil on canvas
Dimensions : 61 x 86.3 cm (24 x 34 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Popular Themes in the Dutch Golden Age
According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :
“The prosperity of the Dutch Republic depended on its fishing, naval, and merchant fleets, and Dutch painters were the peerless masters of the seascape, developing maritime subjects into a richly diversified artistic genre.”
During the 17th century, around the era of the Dutch Golden Age, trade and commerce flourished. The world had become smaller, owing to the opening up of the seas for trade and travel. The economy in the Netherlands was stronger than ever, especially in support of art and local artists. Patronage and commission were commonplace. Works such as the one depicted above, depicting local land and seascapes were high in demand.
Willem van de Velde II had learnt to paint from his father. In the painting above he depicts a galliot sailing on rough waters into the deep seas.
Willem van de Velde II’s The Colosseum Seen from the Southeast is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2300, European and American Art, 17th–19th century. It is part of the museum’s collection of the The Arts in theSeventeenth–Century Dutch and Flemish Art.
To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.