In a letter dated 20 July 1674, written by Pieter Blaeu, son of the publisher Johannes Blaeu, the Elder van de Velde is quoted as saying that he "did not know whether the English were interested in his pictures or in other fine things, he had certainly done very little and had never done anything for anybody other than His Majesty and for the Duke of York, and that kept him totally occupied." Blaeu adds that "I should scarcely have believed all these things if he had not been dressed in very fine clothing and moreover he was wearing a very well-made wig. Merely by looking at him one could see that he was short of nothing."
Pieter Blaeu was used to seeing Old van de Velde as the man on the left, and was staggered by his metamorphosis into Court Painter, by Appointment, to Charles II, King of England, and to James, Duke of York and Lord High Admiral of the English Fleet. In the space of a very few years, say five, Old van de Velde had been transformed from his self-image as a genial and kindly-looking Dutch Republican tarpaulin, skilled navigator and super-skilled ship draughtsman, into a most sour and purse-lipped courtier at a committedly Crypto-Catholic Royal Court, perhaps revealing his inner self as a turncoat and compulsive fornicator. He appears to have lengthened his nose as well, the better to look down it at the common herd.
Bainbrigg Buckeridge fills us in on Old van de Velde, 1706
Kneller paints James in 1684; soon afterwards he or his staff do the same for Willem
What we really want to know about the van de Veldes is this:
a) their association with the Stuarts, and apparent employment by them perhaps from as early as 1660;
b) how exactly did the Elder become an eye-witness of the burning of Schelling in 1666?
c) the precise reasons for their wholesale physical emigration to England, circa 1671-72;
d) the reasons why they appear to have been rejected by William III in England circa 1690;
e) the nature of the studio of the Younger van de Velde after the death of the Elder in 1693.
f) what was the Younger doing in Italy in 1694?
According to Wikipedia, the Elder and the Younger van de Velde accompanied the Dutch troops advancing to the rescue of Schelling in 1666. Can this be true? Their major paintings of the conflagration seem to have ended up in England, however, although some do seem to be in Holland. It is curious that Buckeridge so openly retails a different story about the event, especially since the Younger was still alive in 1706.
Note: Dutch Captain: Laurens van Heemskerck
Laurens van Heemskerck had served the Admiralty of the Maze (Rotterdam) prior to defecting to the English. Reportedly, he might have been shot if he had not defected. In 1659, he had commanded the Klein Hollandia (48 guns) in De Ruyter's fleet that was sent to the Baltic. He fought at the Battle of Lowestoft, where he commanded the Rotterdam ship Vrede (40 guns). He was assigned to Cornelis Eversen the Elder's squadron. He was court-martialled after the battle for insubordination and eventually fled the country. In July 1666, he finally defected to the English, taking with him a list of ships lost at the Four Days Battle. He eventually was knighted by King Charles II. After the St. James's Day Battle on 25 July 1666, he guided Sir Robert Holmes in the attack on Terschelling. He had one command in the English service. In 1668, he was appointed captain of the Nonsuch. Sources:
1. W. L. Clowes, The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, Vol.II, 1898.
2. Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666, 1996.
3. G. L. Grove, Journalen van de Admiralen Van Wassenaer-Obdam en De Ruyter, 1907.
4. J.R. Tanner, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Naval Manuscripts in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Vol.I, 1903.
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William Blake, 1790-3
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Art of Painting, by Roger de Piles, 1706.