WILLEM VAN DE VELDE THE YOUNGER (LEIDEN 1633-1707 WESTMINSTER) AND STUDIO
WILLEM VAN DE VELDE THE YOUNGER (LEIDEN 1633-1707 WESTMINSTER) AND STUDIO
WILLEM VAN DE VELDE THE YOUNGER (LEIDEN 1633-1707 WESTMINSTER) AND STUDIO
WILLEM VAN DE VELDE THE YOUNGER (LEIDEN 1633-1707 WESTMINSTER) AND STUDIO
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WILLEM VAN DE VELDE THE YOUNGER (LEIDEN 1633-1707 WESTMINSTER) AND STUDIO

The Burning of the Soleil Royal during the Battle of La Hogue, 22 May 1692

Details
WILLEM VAN DE VELDE THE YOUNGER (LEIDEN 1633-1707 WESTMINSTER) AND STUDIO
The Burning of the Soleil Royal during the Battle of La Hogue, 22 May 1692
oil on canvas
79 ½ x 120 ½ in. (201.9 x 306.5 cm.)
in original frame with the arms of Admiral Edward Russell

Please note that 100% of the hammer proceeds from this auction will be paid to the Sandys Trust, registered charity number: 1168357, with the exception of limited deductions towards sale costs across the auction which cannot be accurately calculated at this time, capped at a total of £10,000.
Provenance
Commissioned by Admiral Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford (1652-1727) for Chippenham Hall, Cambridgeshire and by inheritance to his great-niece,
Letitia Tipping (1699-1779), wife of Samuel Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys (1695-1770), and by descent to their son,
Edwin Sandys, 2nd Baron Sandys (1726-1797), and by inheritance to his niece,
Mary, Marchioness of Downshire and 1st Baroness Sandys (1764-1836), and by descent to her second son,
Lieutenant-General Arthur Hill, 2nd Baron Sandys (1792-1860), and by inheritance to his younger brother,
Arthur Marcus Sandys, 3rd Baron Sandys (1798-1863), and by descent in the family to,
Richard Hill, 7th Baron Sandys (1931-2013), at Ombersley Court, Worcestershire.
Literature
J. Grego, Inventory of Pictures: Portraits, Paintings, etc., Ombersley MS., 1905, where listed in the Great Dining Hall.
ONM / 1 / 2 / 7, journal entry for a visit to Ombersley Court, 25 August 1950, Oliver Millar Archive, Paul Mellon Centre, London, p. 29, as 'certainly by the Elder'.
A. Oswald, 'Ombersley Court, Worcestershire - II', Country Life, 9 January 1953, p. 96, pls. 6 and 7, as 'William van de Velde the Elder'.
Ombersley Court Inventory, annotated Ombersley MS., June 1963, where listed in the Dining Room.
M.S. Robinson, Van de Velde: A Catalogue of the Paintings of the Elder and Younger Willem van de Velde, Greenwich, 1990, I, p. 215, no. 635, as Willem van de Velde the Elder with studio assistance.
R. Daalder, Van de Velde & Son, Marine Painters, rev. ed., Leiden, 2020, p. 171, fig. 118.
Ombersley Court Catalogue of Pictures, undated, Ombersley MS., p. 28, as 'van de Velde the Elder', where listed in the Ballroom.
Exhibited
London, Earl's Court, Naval, Shipping and Fisheries Exhibition, 1905, no. 416.

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Lot Essay

Although most of the paintings van de Velde undertook for Admiral Russell were ship portraits, this particular work commemorates one of his key naval victories. Russell led the Anglo-Dutch fleet to success against the French in the Battle of La Hogue, one of three major naval engagements that took place in the English Channel during the so-called War of the English Succession (1689-97), fought as a result of the accession of the Dutch Prince of Orange to the English throne (as William III) and the consequent alliance of England with Holland against the territorial ambitions of Louis XIV.

The battle took place from late May to early June 1692, concluding with fighting in the open bays of Cherbourg and La Hogue, where Admiral Russell and his large Anglo-Dutch alliance of nearly one hundred ships faced a French fleet of just forty-four ships. Russell and his fleet forced the French ships to scatter, eventually capturing or destroying many of them, including the flagship, the huge 104-gun Soleil Royal. With French supremacy in the Channel temporarily eclipsed, this was not only a decisive victory against France within sight of her own shores but it also caused such major damage to the French fleet, effectively ending any hope of invasion and thus the restoration of the Jacobite House of Stuart to the English throne. It also brought great recognition and appreciation of Russell; he was elevated to Admiral of the Fleet in November 1693, made First Lord of the Admiralty in April 1694, and later Earl of Orford in 1697.

The painting takes a view over the bay of La Hogue. The Soleil Royal and other ships from the French fleet burn near the coast, whilst the combined Dutch and English fleet are visible in the foreground. Robinson attributed this painting to Willem van de Velde the Elder and Studio, acknowledging that it would have to date to the last year of the artist’s life (op cit., p. 215). Instead, as Remmelt Daalder has proposed, it is more likely that it was painted by the Younger, with studio assistance, possibly with input from the Elder in the design (op cit., p. 171). The Younger would have been well versed in this particular genre of birds-eye view marine paintings and it is plausible that Russell himself advised van de Velde on details of the battle.

The delicate original frame with naval motifs is indicative of Russell’s ornate taste, and the original furnishing of Chippenham Hall. The series of naval scenes were not the only commission Russell made to mark his naval career; a baroque mirror frame now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (inv. no. M.2-2017), decorated with personifications of fame and the figures of Mercury and Hercules, was also presumably intended to celebrate Russell’s appointments as Admiral of the Fleet and First Lord of the Admiralty.

We are grateful to Remmelt Daalder for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.

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