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Creator:
Willem van de Velde the Younger, 1633–1707
Title:

An Action between English Ships and Barbary Corsairs

Former Title(s):

An Action off the Barbary Coast with Galleys and English Ships

Date:
ca. 1695
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
12 5/8 x 19 3/8 inches (32.1 x 49.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1981.25.641
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
battle | cannons (artillery) | English | flags | galleys (watercraft) | guns | marine art | men | military art | oars | pirates | rigging | rowboats | sailors | sails | sea | ships | sky | smoke | Union Jack | warships | water
Associated Places:
Africa | Algeria | Morocco | North Africa | Tunisia
Access:
On view at the Yale University Art Gallery
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:1104
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IIIF Manifest:
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One of the greatest threats to English trade in the Mediterranean was piracy, or, more properly, state-approved privateers, also known as corsairs, originating from Morocco and the Ottoman provinces of Algiers and Tunisia. The vessels of choice for Barbary pirates were galleys, the oar-driven vessels that had dominated naval warfare in the Mediterranean since ancient times, which were also equipped with masts and sails for when winds were favorable. The type shown in this painting is a fusta, a small galley with twelve to fifteen two-man rowing benches on each side and a single mast with a lateen (triangular) sail. These vessels were light, fast, and maneuverable; they were ideally suited for privateering operations in shallow coastal waters.

The Barbary "pirates" specifically targeted shipping from Christian nations, taking captives and selling them into slavery or holding them for ransom. Between 1600 and 1660, an estimated 12,000 British were taken captive in the Mediterranean and in raids on the English and Irish coasts; from 1660 to 1730 another 6,000 were captured. Particularly after 1650, most captives were eventually ransomed in return for money or armaments; in 1721, 300 British captives were worth 1,200 barrels of gunpowder and 13,500 gun-locks (the firing mechanism, which contained all of the moving parts of a gun). In the meantime, the English sold seamen captured in the Mediterranean to countries such as Spain and Italy to use in their own galleys.

Gallery label for Pearls to pyramids: British visual culture and the Levant, 1600-1820 (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-02-07 - 2008-04-28)

Spreading Canvas - Eighteenth - Century British Marine Painting (Yale Center for British Art, 2016-09-09 - 2016-12-04) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Pearls to Pyramids: British Visual Culture and the Levant, 1600–1830 (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-02-07 - 2008-04-28) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Behold the Sea (Yale Center for British Art, 2003-06-14 - 2003-09-07) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Jonathan Conlin, The pleasure garden , from Vauxhall to Coney Island, , University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2013, p. 93-96, fig. 3.7, SB451.36.G7 P54 2013 (YCBA) Also available online (ORBIS) [Project Muse] [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 230-231, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Seascapes : Yale Center for British Art., , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. [7 ], no. 3, V 1909 (YCBA) Vertical File [YCBA]

Eleanor Hughes, Spreading Canvas : Eighteenth-Century British Marine Painting, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2016, p. 134-135, 144, cat. 7, ND 1373.G74 S67 2016 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Pearls to pyramids : British visual culture and the Levant, 1600-1830 [wall labels], Yale Center for British Art, 2008, p. 8, V 2576 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Pearls to pyramids : British visual culture and the Levant, 1600-1830, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2008, p. 14, V1880 [ORBIS]


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