Calm Sea
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Willem van de Velde the Younger
Dutch, Amsterdam, 1665 - 1666
Black chalk and gray wash
6 1/2 x 15 13/16 in.

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During the Dutch Golden Age, the River Ij provided access to merchant vessels traveling between Amsterdam and the North Sea. In this panoramic view, tall sails and a distant city skyline animate a thin horizon line that separates sky from water. A dark band of wash near the bottom of the page conveys the water's depth and expanse.

The only elements that hint at movement are the ships' billowing sails and a rowboat. Subtle washes of gray evoke a light-filled yet solemn atmosphere and underscore the composition's calmness. Inscriptions along the top and bottom edges of the drawing identify the scene's location along with a few other facts, adding a documentary element to this evocative picture.

Willem van de Velde the Younger followed his artist father's example and specialized in marine scenes like this one. While his father took a meticulous, documentary approach to his subject matter, Van de Velde the Younger developed a more expressive style.