Willem van de Velde (1633-1707) was born in Leiden. His father - also called Willem van de Velde (hence I and II) – started life as a sailor and later became an artist for the Dutch navy. At fifteen, Van de Velde II was apprenticed to Simon de Vlieger, who specialised in atmospheric seascapes. Van de Velde II’s early marines are generally tranquil, showing groups of fishing boats off the coast. After he and his father moved to England in 1672, Van de Velde II broadened his range. While he continued to paint marines, he made numerous portraits of individual vessels, such as royal yachts and battle ships. Van de Velde II was commissioned by the British king to paint various naval battles.