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    Sale 5386

    Maritime

    21 May 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 12

    Studio of Willem van de Velde, the Younger (Leiden 1633 - 1707 London)

    An action between an English ship and vessels of the Barbary Corsairs

    Price Realised  

    Studio of Willem van de Velde, the Younger (Leiden 1633 - 1707 London)
    An action between an English ship and vessels of the Barbary Corsairs
    oil on canvas
    28 x 36 in. (71.2 x 91.5 cm.)


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    The infamous Barbary corsairs were the scourge of the Mediterranean throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and indeed right up until Lord Exmouth's successful assault on Algiers in August 1816. Operating out of fortified citadels along the North African coast, the corsairs' reign of terror, specifically the enslavement of Christian prisoners, had flourished unchecked for many generations whilst the European nations had fought each other in seemingly interminable conflict. Only after Napoleonic France had been defeated could Britain and her allies give their full attention to the problem.

    In the mid-seventeenth century, such a solution still seemed impossible and innumerable ships of the western nations were lost and their crews seized without the corsairs having any fear of reprisals. It is such a scene as this which is portrayed and whilst probably not depicting a specific incident, the work nevertheless conveys the brutal clash of cultures which characterised these desperate fights.

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    Provenance

    The Marquess of Sligo; Christie's, London, 20 May 1955, [part] lot 29, as P.Monamy (sold 60 gns).
    Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 27 October 1961, [part] lot 103, as P.Monamy (sold 680 gns.)


    Literature

    M.S. Robinson, The Paintings of the Willem van de Veldes, National Maritime Museum, London, 1990, vol. 1, pp. 234 - 236, no. 625 (1).