<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

IIIF Actions
Willem van de Velde the Elder, ca. 1611–1693, Dutch, active in Britain (from 1672)

Ships and Militia by a Rocky Shore

Former Title(s):

English and Dutch Ships with Armed Men by a Rocky, Fortified Shore [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]

ca. 1680
Pen and ink on prepared canvas
25 5/8 x 38 7/16 inches (65.1 x 97.6 cm)

Label on verso, upper right: “L 278729 | [logo] | 17”; lower left: “Owner | Mellon, Mr. Paul | Artist Velde, Willem van de Velde | The Elder | Title A Mediterranean Shipping | Scene | National Gallery of Art PM 6634”

Signed and dated, lower left, under rock: "W.V.V.P [??]" [monogram]

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
boats | bridge (built work) | castle | cliff | expedition | fort | galleys (watercraft) | geology | marine art | men | men-of-war | militia | promontory | rocks (landforms) | rowboats | science | sea | ships | soldiers | tower (building division)
Associated Places:
Mediterranean Sea
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

William van de Velde came to London in 1672 at the invitation of Charles II, who granted him a pension and a studio at Greenwich. There he established the taste for marine paintings, including battle pictures representing the Anglo-Dutch naval wars of the 1660s and early 1670s, many of which Van de Velde witnessed at first hand. This grisaille panel is an example of a penschilder, a painting made with brush and pen to imitate engraving. The scene itself is imaginary, showing a combined force of English and Italian ships off the North African coast. But the Barbary pirates on this coast were very real and harassed ships in the Mediterranean, selling captives into slavery in the Ottoman Empire. The British navy mounted offensive operations against the pirates in the 1670s, forcing the Barbary states to sue for peace, which protected British shipping but allowed the pirates to continue their operations against Britain’s commercial rivals.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

" Pearls to Pyramids " - Britain and the " Orient " 1600-1820 (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-02-07 - 2008-04-28) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

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

Malcolm Cormack, A 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]

Pearls to pyramids : British visual culture and the Levant, 1600-1830 [wall labels], Yale Center for British Art, 2008, pp. 6-7, V 2576 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Pearls to pyramids : British visual culture and the Levant, 1600-1830, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2008, pp. 8, 14, V1880 [ORBIS]

Michael Strang Robinson, Van de Velde: A Catalogue of the Paintings of the Elder and the Younger Willem Van de Velde, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 1990, pp. 80-81, no. 69, NJ18 V574 A12 +R62 1990 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : Catalogue of Important Old Master Paintings : 3 December 1969, Sotheby's, London, December 3, 1969, pp. 20-21, lot 21, Auction Catalogues (YCBA) [YCBA]

If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.