The Battle of Lowestoft, ca. 1690
Oil on canvas
40 3/4 x 71 1/4 in. (103.5x 181 cm)
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This painting records in epic cinematic style the naval Battle of Lowestoft, which took place in 1665 during the Second Dutch War between England and the Netherlands. The English fleet, commanded by James, Duke of York (later James II), had been blockading the busy trade of the Dutch ports for over a month, until forced to retreat due to bad weather. Admiral Opdam, the commander of the Dutch fleet, took advantage of the situation and set chase. The two sides met on the morning of June 3, 1665.
Van Diest portrays the battle just after the Dutch have lost their flagship, the Eendracht. The burning hull of the ship is visible in the right foreground, its surviving sailors swimming to safety. The condition of the English flagship, the Royal Charles (on the left), could not be more different: elegantly carved and gilded, her cannons blast and her sails billow; her sailors are furiously working the rigging. The English went on to win the battle.
Christie's, London, February 20, 1882, lot 144; Sotheby's, London, April 9, 1997, lot 2
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