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HMS ‘Royal James’, a Royal Yacht and Other Shipping
1678
Willem Van de Velde the Elder

HMS ‘Royal James’, a Royal Yacht and Other Shipping  1678 Willem Van de Velde the Elder

A three-decker shown at anchor. She has a blue flag at the main signifying an admiral of the blue and a Union jack at the fore. In the right foreground is a royal yacht with an extra long pendant at the masthead and two boats alongside. To the left of the yacht a two-decker is showing firing a forward gun. On the left a ship’s boat is pulling towards the flagship.

In the left middle distance and background there are other ships and vessels, including a ship with a red flag at the mizzen indicating a rear-admiral of the red. In the distance there is a galley-frigate which may be the ‘James Galley’, built by Sir Anthony Deane in 1676. There are three porpoises swimming past in the foreground on the right, which is a typical Dutch marine artist’s device.

Although it was originally identified as the ‘Royal Prince’, the three-decker is now thought to be the ‘Royal James’. Van de Velde may well have seen her when she was at the Battle of Solebay on 28 May 1672. He may have made detailed drawings of her then. The royal yacht could be the ‘Cleveland’, but it is not known if she had the figure of a man on horseback as her figurehead. Certainly the ‘Cleveland' was another ship built by Sir Anthon Deane.

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