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Willem Van der Velde

One of the highlights of the trip to Amsterdam was finally getting to visit the Rijksmuseum. This was my second visit to the city, but only now was I able to get to the museum. I was particularly hoping to see some of Rembrandt’s fabulous etchings on the second floor, but the room was closed for renovation. Just my bloody luck! Nevertheless this was more than made up for by a discovery in the ground floor exhibition tracing the background to Holland’s seventeenth century “Golden Age”.

As an illustrator the most fabulous works in the whole museum for me were two enormous pen-and-ink wash drawings of sea battles by Willem Van der Velde. The two drawings were at least a metre wide each, and had an incredible level of detail of the ships involved.

Here’s just one small detail from one of the pictures, The Battle of Livorno. It’s not a mezzotint or engraving, but freehand pen lines and sepia wash on panel. The detail just took my breathe away.

Here’s the whole picture:

Background information on this and two other ink drawings by Van der Velde are on the Rijksmuseum website.

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