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English Ships at Sea Beating to Windward in a Gale
1690
Willem Van de Velde the Younger

English Ships at Sea Beating to Windward in a Gale  1690 Willem Van de Velde the Younger

To the left is a two-decker, in starboard-quarter view, close-hauled on the starboard tack under fore, main and mizzen courses. The fore and main topsails are furled and the lower deck ports are closed. At the main she flies a Union flag which has been become ragged in the gale and she shows a large royal arms on the stern.

Close on her port beam is another two-decker also on the starboard tack, pitching into the sea. In the right background there are two more ships close-hauled on the starboard tack with men visible on the main yard of the closer one furling the sail. There are two other ships in the right distance in sunlight.

One of several versions of this scene, the original picture was probably painted as a commission for one of the flag officers who were allowed to fly the Union flag when in command of a detached squadron normally outside home waters. For this reason it has been suggested that the painting may show the squadron under Sir John Narborough which went out to the Mediterranean in 1677.

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