England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands found themselves at war on three occasions within twenty years in the mid-seventeenth century and despite a variety of political causes, the underlying rationale for this essentially continuous conflict was trade. The first outbreak of hostilities lasted from 1652 to 1654 and although the Dutch suffered several heavy defeats, they conceded so little by the Treaty of Westminster that further fighting became inevitable. The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67) was less satisfactory for England and culminated in the infamous Dutch attack on the Medway which ended hostilities prematurely with the humiliating loss of many of the Royal Navy's greatest ships. By 1670, existing Anglo-Dutch rivalry had been further exacerbated by Charles II's intrigues with Louis XIV and it came as no surprise when War was declared again early in 1672.
Although France was notionally involved in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, her ships played no part in the various naval encounters of that conflict. Thus, since this work clearly shows vessels flying English, Dutch and French ensigns, it can almost certainly be ascribed to the Third (and final) Anglo-Dutch War of 1672-74. The principal fleet encounters of this last spate of hostilities were at Solebay (28th May 1672), Schooneveld (28th May & 4th June 1673) and the Texel (11th August 1673) although it has not yet been possible to identify which of these battles is portrayed here.