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To the left is the 'Royal Sovereign' in starboard-quarter view and at anchor. The Royal Standard flies at the main, the Admiralty flag at the fore and the Union flag at the mizzen. She is firing a salute to port and a number of figures are visible on the deck and in the rigging. This 100-gun, first-rate ship was built by Fisher Harding at Woolwich Dockyard in 1701 and she can be identified by the large horse and rider on her taffrail, below the middle lantern. She was regarded as the greatest ship in the world and her decorations were elaborately carved – at such huge expense in fact that the Admiralty thereafter severely restricted the carving that ships were allowed to have, according to their importance.
The artist was younger son of Willem van de Velde the Elder. He worked in his father's studio and developed the skill of carefully drawing ships in tranquil settings. He changed his subject matter, however, when he came with his father to England in 1672–1673, by a greater concentration on royal yachts, men-of-war and storm scenes. From this time painting sea battles for Charles II and his brother (and Lord High Admiral) James, Duke of York, and other patrons, became a priority.
oil on canvas
H 180.3 x W 144.7 cm