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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The 'Royal Escape' in a Breeze


Creator: Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707) (artist)
Creation Date: 
1672 - 1685
Materials and techniques: 
Oil on canvas
63.4 x 75.8 cm
CW 216
XQG 1971 Dutch 41
Acquirer: Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85)
Commissioned by Charles II c.1675

On 15 October 1651 Charles II paid one Nicolas Tettersell £60 to carry him from Shoreham to France in a Brighthelmstone coal-brig called the 'Surprise'. After this ignominious flight the King returned in triumph from Scheveningen in 1660 bringing with him a keen interest in Dutch recreational yachting. He bought the 'Surprise', converted it into a yacht and renamed it the 'Royal Escape'.

The' Royal Escape' by Van de Velde (1633-1707) is here sailing close to the wind (or close-hauling), which means that it is only 30 or 45 degrees away from sailing directly into the wind. This is an exciting though perfectly possible manoeuvre and explains why the Royal Ensign streams backwards. The name of the ship and the yachtsman’s brinkmanship clearly convey the same message as the previous work: that the boat here in some way represents the heroism of the King’s escape from the storm clouds of rebellion towards the blue skies of a safe haven and glorious return. The British frigate calmly at anchor in the background is there to reassure us that this is more of a twentieth anniversary re-enactment of a royal escapade than the real thing.

Signed lower left: 'W.V.V.'

Text adapted from Dutch Landscapes, London, 2010

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