Like the previous lot, this picture has been untraced since it last appeared at auction in the Bernonville sale in Paris in 1881. Until now it has been known only by virtue of an engraving made by H. Toussaint which served as an illustration in the 1881 sale catalogue. On this basis, Robinson included the picture in his catalogue raisonné, surmising that: 'Until the original picture has been found, it can only be assumed that it was an early work by the Younger painted for the Van de Velde studio, c.1655.' (op. cit.).
We are grateful to Professor Jan Kelch who, on the basis of photographs, has confirmed the attribution without reservation and suggested a date, like Robinson, to 1653-55. He compares it to the dated picture of 1653 in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg - a Calm which is close stylistically and in composition to the present work. This dating places the picture early within a group of the artist's most eloquent and atmospheric calm scenes. The composition is typical of Van de Velde's early arrangements in the way that the vessels are grouped on both sides, leaving a distant view in the centre, partly mitigated by smaller vessels in the middle distance. In this respect, the artist must have been influenced both by Simon de Vlieger, under whom he trained around 1650, and to a greater extent, by his father, whose grisaille designs often formed the basis for Willem the Younger's paintings. The present work typically devotes a large area in the upper reaches of the canvas to the brilliant observation of the sky, while offering a richly detailed description of the array of vessels below. The positioning of the boats, the way the light catches their sails, and the angles at which they are viewed, is worked out with masterful care, creating an overriding sense of serene tranquility.