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Dutch Attack on the Medway, 9-14 June 1667

Fine art

Object details:

Object ID BHC0293
Description In May 1667 negotiations were in progress for a peace to end the Second Dutch War, 1665-67, between the English and Dutch. The English erroneously anticipated an early settlement and did not mobilize their fleet for the summer, since they did not believe that the Dutch had done so. They also believed that such restraint would be read as a gesture of peaceful intent. However, peace negotiations did not run smoothly and the Dutch, finding agreement impossible, secretly and swiftly mobilized their fleet. Before the English were even aware of this, the Dutch, under Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter appeared in the Thames, captured Sheerness and, over three weeks, began to take or destroy ships of the English fleet laid up in the Medway. When they sailed for home they took with them the 'Royal Charles', 86 guns, and left three more of the finest ships burning. Others had been sunk to prevent the Dutch penetrating further up the river. This major naval disaster for England resulted in much better terms for the Dutch when the Treaty of Breda was signed some months later. The painting functions as a celebratory image of victory for the Dutch and is shown from their perspective. A line of Dutch ships is visible in the left background and in the left foreground the stern of a burning ship is visible. To the right of the picture in the foreground is the captured 'Royal Charles', in starboard-quarter view. The royal coat of arms is visible on the stern. The jubilant Dutchmen have just hoisted the Dutch flag at her main and are waving their hats. She still wears her English jack and ensign. Other burning English ships are visible on the right and in the foreground the ensign and tops of masts of a sunken English ship can be seen. Dutch ships boats are shown moving around the large ships. The Flemish artist was born and died in Antwerp, and was best known for his depictions of sea battles.
Date made circa 1667

Artist/Maker Velde, Pieter van den
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on wood panel
Measurements Frame: 928 mm x 1259 mm x 75 mm;Painting: 787 mm x 1066 mm
  • Dutch Attack on the Medway, 9-14 June 1667 (BHC0293)
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