The Elder
A brother, Cornelius ?

Van de Velde

who worked in it?

interim speculations
all subject to correction


The Younger
six children: or four ?

Note: May 2008

Many of the puzzles, surmises and conundrums in this and linked pages have been researched
in greater depth, and in some cases resolved during the last 4 months.
However, it will be some time before they appear here, so conjectures are to be treated with caution.

"After his father's death in 1693 Willem van de Velde the Younger continued to oversee the studio, which appears to have generated a progressively larger number of versions, replicas, and copies of well-known van de Velde compositions. The shop included his sons, Willem and Cornelis, plus Isaac Sailmaker, Jacob Knyff, and Peter Monamy."

From Mirror of Empire: Dutch marine art of the seventeenth century, by George S.Keyes and others, 1990, p.421. The authority cited for this extremely careless misquote is: "D.Cordingly, in Greenwich, 1982, p.20". Cordingly's actual words are given below:

"The greater part of Van de Velde's last years must have been spent in overseeing the work of his studio. There is some confusion regarding the members of the Van de Velde circle in London, but there can be no doubt that there were a large number of marine artists producing versions, variations and copies of Van de Velde's paintings. These included the Younger van de Velde's son William, his brother (or son) Cornelis van de Velde, Van der Hagen, Isaac Sailmaker, Jacob Knyff and Peter Monamy".

From The Art of the Van de Veldes, by David Cordingly, 1982, p.20.

Willem van de Velde de Jonge, c 1672, by Lodewijk van der Helst
from Willem van de Velde de Jonge, 1992, by Margarita Russell

David Cordingly's remark, that "there is some confusion regarding the members of the Van de Velde circle in London", is very much to the point. As already remarked on an earlier page, I cannot believe that Sailmaker or Monamy ever worked in the van de Velde studio. Perhaps Jacob Knyff, who died in 1681, was associated with the studio for a short period up to the mid-1670s. There is a useful introduction to the style of Knyff on pages 38-50 in Cockett's Early Sea Painters, 1995. Knyff's personal manner may show some direct influence of the van de Veldes, although they needn't have employed him. See here.

In Willem van de Velde de Jonge, 1992, Margarita Russell notes, p.21, that "according to tradition" the Younger's three sons, Willem, Cornelis and Pieter, as well as one of his daughters, Sara, worked in his studio. There were reputedly also two more daughters.

In Van de Velde Drawings, 1958, reprinted 1974, Robinson quotes Vertue's comments that there were: "in England four several persons Vanderveldes painter of seapieces the first William Vande Velde, father of William Vande Velde. Junior who was not only the best painter in that manner in England but probably in All Europe. William Vande Velde Senior was also an excellent painter of seapieces, as may be seen by many of his works amongst the Curious. & at hampton Court palace he being employ'd by K.Charles 2d 1670 to paint several sea fights & had a Salary or pension paid him to his death which son had continu'd till the revolution. this William V.Velde. had a brother imployd by the same King who drew or painted sea pieces in Black & white with great skill and curiosity. this Cornelius Vande Velde. had also a pension from the Crown. till he died. of these VandeVelds. was left only one heir son of VV.Weld. Junior. who not haveing the spirit or love for Art & Study. tho he was well instructed by his father. came to no great perfection. tho he copied his fathers works very much. he went over to Holland & there died." According to Remmelt Daalder he actually died in London, 1714.

Vertue, it must be noted, and as is evident from his notes on Monamy, was a little erratic in his recording of dates, and other details of painters he was not familiar with. The impression is that sea-painting was not a genre that greatly held his interest.

In his digest of Vertue's notebooks Horace Walpole comments: "William the Older had a brother named Cornelius, who like him painted shipping in black and white, was employed by King Charles, and had a salary. The younger William left a son, a painter too of the same style, and who made good copies from his father's works, but was otherwise no considerable performer. He went to Holland and died there. He had a sister who .... had portraits of her grandfather and father by Sir Godfrey Kneller, of her brother by Wissing, and of her great uncle Cornelius." This last added information is, to my mind, extremely interesting and suggestive. Was this sister Sara? Was she still alive and living in England when Horace began to concern himself with art, say about 1740? He would not have invented these details.

J.C.Weyerman: De levens-beschryvingen der Nederlandsche konst schilders, 1729, Vol.3, p.386, is also quoted by Robinson, with the following account of Cornelis: "He is a son of the most famous of all marine painters, Willem Van de Velde. He is living, if he yet lives, in or around London. We have been acquainted with this artist in England and have often seen his work. He is now quite the best painter we could name. He has practically the same style as his very artistic father, painting the briny sea of Nereus with the light shining through crystal clear. His ships, his skies and shores and rocks are beautifully and broadly painted. We say again, undoubtedly the best marine painter to come forward in our lifetime. He is married to the daughter of a common Dutch painter called Van de Hagen, and she has a son, a fine landscape painter, whose art we have already been considering." See here for the full text of Weyerman's four volume work.

The McDonald "Monamy". A signature has appeared in the course of the last 30 years.
Does the light shine through the briny sea of Nereus crystal clear in this painting?

David Joel, in Charles Brooking, p.108, adds: "His marriage entry in the Knightsbridge Chapel in 1699 anglicises his name to Cornelius, but he would undoubtedly have been Cornelis to his Dutch family. The marriage was to Bernarda, daughter of J. van der Hagen who was a friend and follower of Cornelis' father, W.van de Velde, the Younger. .... his identity managed to sink into obscurity for many years. ..... Later a couple of signed calms came to light .... These are in a highly finished and detailed style, more like the work of his grandfather, Willem van de Velde, the Elder than of his father. ..... his crabbed little signature, which is difficult to read. His standing as an artist in his lifetime ..... may be judged to some extent from his being asked to report on the work of Sir James Thornhill in the Painted Hall in Greenwich in 1717." But he died in 1714 ! Bernarda and Johan van der Hagen seem to have been siblings.

Robinson makes it clear that there were several painters called to report on Thornhill's work, including "Cowper, Richardson, Sykes, Degarde, or any other able painters", and he only says that the van de Velde was "presumably" Cornelis. However, who could it have been ?

Is this not a painting by the same hand as the preceding "Monamy"?
This painting is titled the Isabella; now in the NMM. It is not by Monamy, in my opinion.
Does it follow or precede the one below? The NMM doesn't know.

Note the (conjectural?) date: and is it "better" or "worse" than the so-called "Monamy" ?
from Zoege von Manteuffel: Die Künstlerfamilie van de Velde (1927).

Since a Cornelius Vande Velde, "Limner of St Gile's living in Dyet street over agt Sparrows nest", who must have been the son of the Younger William, on 18 August 1699 married Bernarda, the daughter of ¹ a "common (ordinary or indifferent) painter", it seems very possible that her presumed brother, Johan, joined in the work of the studio, after the death of the Younger William in 1707.

Robinson adds "From 1710 to 1712 Cornelis Van de Velde lived in Millbank, Westminster, a few doors from John Burgess, who took over the house which his father-in-law, Willem Van de Velde the Younger, occupied from 1706 until his death in 1707."

So far we seem to have accumulated a reasonable tally of candidates for the squad of van de Velde assistants, copyists, trainees, helpers, paint-mixers and so forth, busily occupied in the van de Velde studio --- all either bearing the famous name or otherwise intimately connected. In addition to the Master and his son, the junior Master, we have a shadowy Cornelius the Elder, the six children of the Younger William, ie William minimus [born 1667], Cornelius minor, Pieter, allegedly three daughters, one named Sara(h), as well as, later, Johann van der Hagen, and his sisterer Bernarda. Eleven or so up, and some to come, not counting the brothers Du Bois, or the budding landscape painter mentioned by Weyerman. On to page 2.

Cornelius van de Velde. Initialled on back of canvas, and dated 1703. See Joel p.108

¹ Note. Iain Pears' superb study The Discovery of Painting contains the revelation that a painter named "John Vanderhagen was on the staff of the Earl of Derby at Knowsley in 1702 at £20 a year." p 256, n 35. The employment of Joshua Molyneux at Knowsley 1722-28, and the fact that a later Earl of Derby in 1842 bought the Walker/Monamy conversation piece, in good faith as by Hogarth, suggests that further research at Knowsley might be rewarding.

the van de velde studio 1       the van de velde studio 2
the van de velde studio 3: sara van de velde ?
van de velde 1       van de velde 2
cornelius van de velde
vertue & walpole
monamy & british art history
monamy website index

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2003, 2008, 2015, 2016
all rights reserved