A dramatic composition by Willem Van de Velde, considered the finest marine artist of the Dutch Golden Age, sold for £5,305,250 at Sotheby’s in London on July 4. It was the top lot in the Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale. It had been estimated at £1.5-2.5 million. Willem van de Velde the Younger’s The Surrender of the Royal Prince during the Four Days’ Battle is an evocative rendering of the Dutch naval battle against the English in 1666. In it the artist depicts his own father sketching in a tiny galliot beneath the stern of the English ship “The Royal Prince” as it surrenders.
The subject – the defeat of the English – marked the high point of Dutch naval history and was considered so important that the precursor of the Rijksmuseum attempted to acquire the work for the nation in 1800 but was outbid. The work was bought by a private Dutch collector and will return to Holland. The sale of 44 works realised a total of £32,268,650 against an estimate of £26-40 million.
(See post on antiquesandartireland.com for June 26, 2012).