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The English Ship 'Royal Sovereign' with a Royal Yacht in a Light Air
1703
Willem Van de Velde the Younger

To the left is the 'Royal Sovereign' in starboard-quarter view and at anchor. The Royal Standard flies at the main, the Admiralty flag at the fore and the Union flag at the mizzen. She is firing a salute to port and a number of figures are visible on the deck and in the rigging.

This 100-gun, first-rate ship was built by Fisher Harding at Woolwich Dockyard in 1701 and she can be identified by the large horse and rider on her taffrail, below the middle lantern. She was regarded as the greatest ship in the world and her decorations were elaborately carved – at such huge expense in fact that the Admiralty thereafter severely restricted the carving that ships were allowed to have, according to their importance.

It is possible that this is the scene at Spithead on June 4, 1702 when Prince George of Denmark dined on board the 'Royal Sovereign' with the Duke of Ormonde. There are a number of ships in the far distance. In the left foreground a ship's boat
or barge approaches the 'Sovereign's' stern where there are two other boats on the port quarter and two on the starboard quarter. In the center foreground is a fishing pink with her square sail lowered and two people on board. Next to it is a
skiff or wherry alongside also with two people. Further away on the right is one of the ketch-rigged royal yachts, in port-bow view, which is probably the 'Isabella'. A ship's boat or barge is leaving her starboard bow, pulling towards the 'Royal Sovereign'.