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A Battle Between English and Dutch Ships

BHC0984
Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art, Maritime Art Greenwich
User collections Britain and the Sea audio tour by Joanna
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Netherlands: Navy
Depiction: UK: Navy

Object details:

Object ID BHC0984
Description A composition adapted from the painting of the Battle of the Texel, 1673, by Willem van de Velde the Younger, painted in 1687 (see BHC0315). In that painting the Dutch ship 'Gouden Leeuw', 80 guns, is shown firing at the British ship, 'Charles', 96 guns. The Battle of Texel was the last battle of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, 1672-74. Although based closely on van de Velde's large painting, the central ship has been modified to become an English flagship, mainly by altering the flags. This distorts an already confused visual account since the positions of the ships in van de Velde's picture cannot be reconciled with either the written accounts or the drawings made of the battle by van de Velde the Elder. The red ensign differs from van de Velde's since it is of the post-1707 pattern with the St George's cross and St Andrew's cross superimposed on a blue ground in the upper quadrant. The sails of the central ship also have more holes to make it look as if the English have suffered more. Figures on deck are gesturing and waving their arms towards the Dutch. On far right the bow of a ship with a golden lion figurehead can be seen sinking. Figures are clambering off the wreck and into two heavily laden ship's boats. The plight of the sailors is shown in a number of ways. Figures are in the water, lowering themselves into it or clinging on to the wreck. Wreckage is strewn in the foreground of the painting and one figure hangs on to a floating mast with the Dutch flag prominently fixed at its peak. On the far left in the middle distance two British ships replace the two Dutch ones of van de Velde's painting while on the right Dutch ships replace British ones, all by merely changing the flags. Unlike the van de Velde, Woodcock has shown a calmer sea with less pronounced waves. The artist was a clerk in the Admiralty with a keen interest in ships. By the age of 30 he is known to have been painting in oils. He admired the van de Veldes and made a number of copies of their work. This is an example. His close parallels with van de Velde indicate that he must have known him and seen his work at first hand. At the time of his death Woodcock had not entirely escaped his influence to develop a distinctive style of his own. The Willem van de Veldes, father and son, came to England in 1672-73. The younger man's preferred subject matter was royal yachts, men-of-war and storm scenes. Unlike his father's pictures of sea battles, those he undertook after his arrival in England were not usually eyewitness accounts. However, after his father's death in 1693 he became an official marine painter and was obliged to be present at significant maritime events. The painting is signed on the spar, lower left, 'Richd. Woodcock'.
Date made Early 18th century

Artist/Maker Woodcock, Robert
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 1120 mm x 1880 mm; Frame: 3 9/16 in
Parts
  • A Battle Between English and Dutch Ships (BHC0984)
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