Michael Robinson dates this painting of a States Yacht to around 1675, a year after Willem van de Velde the Younger and his father, Willem van de Velde the Elder, had entered the service of King Charles II of England and had the use of a studio in the Queen's House at Greenwich. At this time, father and son still collaborated, but also delivered independent works of art. Robinson believes that this painting was executed substantially by the Younger. He notes a greater painterly freedom in the work, compared with the Younger’s technique before he moved to England, and a brighter palette, notably in the flags, which compare closely with those in works by Abraham Storck. Robinson further remarks that the signature is in the form that would be expected in 1675, when the Elder and the Younger van de Velde were beginning to separate their studios, but before the Elder added ‘de oude’ to his signature and the Younger added ‘J’ (op. cit. p. 370).
The subject-matter of van de Velde’s paintings underwent a marked change during the 1670s, after his move to England. Instead of groups of anonymous fishing boats, he tended to paint portraits of particular ships, such as royal yachts and men-of-war, while storm and shipwreck subjects replace the calms of the 1660s. Robinson suggests that the Yacht in this painting may be the same Amsterdam admiralty yacht that appears in his Calm in the Mauritshuis, The Hague (ibid., p. 369, no. 1), both having the prominent lion supporters either side of the ensign staff and the same number of carved figures along the side of the paviljoen, or cabin aft. Robinson further points out that the pendant below a flag at a yacht’s mainmast is unusual and may signify a commander-in-chief going out to join his fleet. The yacht fires a salute on the starboard side. Two small boats with numerous figures are alongside its leeboard and a third barge with a blue awning is approaching close by. To the right a so-called boeier, a small fishing vessel, is nearing the group whereas in the left foreground a rowing boat with fishermen and large fish-baskets is moored at a dolphin. Behind them, further offshore, two sailing vessels can be seen before a thin strip of land. In the right background sunlight illuminates the sails of two other larger sailing boats. A church spire is visible on the horizon. An array of Dutch flags and blue pendants are gently lifted by the light breeze and further enhance the liveliness of the scene.
Robinson commented in 1990 that the painting had probably been in the Miller-Mundy family for more than a hundred years. In all likelihood it hung in Shipley Hall, the family’s country estate near Heanor, Derbyshire before the estate's demolition in 1943.