It is almost 50 years ago that I decided to become an art dealer, and with my fascination since childhood for Dutch maritime history it was almost inevitable that I chose to specialise in seascapes from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. I didn’t realise at the time that I would be the only dealer in the world to do so. I still am. Little had been published at the time, nor had much research been done, so sometimes it was an almost end- less search to track down the correct attributions. The marine was still uncharted territory. And even today there are plenty of seascapes appearing at auction at home and abroad with attributions that are wide of the mark. In those more almost 50 years I have built up a massive archive. I have photographed all the paintings that have passed through my hands, first in black-and-white photographs and large transparencies, and digitally since the mid-1990s.
We have also recorded all auction results, together with illustrations. This archive is regularly consulted by art historians for their publications. So I can proudly say that the marine is now firmly on the chart. Many pieces of the puzzle have been filled in, but not all of them, of course. The first quarter of the seventeenth century still needs to be researched further. I have helped in my own way by correcting the many incorrect attributions. In all those long years I have not only sold many paintings, drawings, prints and nautical charts to muse- ums in the Netherlands and abroad, but to private collectors as well, who have become friends as well as clients, and for that I am grateful. A lot has changed in all that time. Good paintings have become scarce, and the search for fascinating and historic works costs a great deal of time and effort. But the few times you find a really first-rate work makes it all worthwhile. And that is what has now happened again with a superb work by the greatest marine painter of the second half of the seventeenth century, Willem van de Velde the Younger. It was very probably commissioned by the heirs of Vice-Admiral Sir John Harman (c. 1625- 11October 1673) to celebrate his victory in the third Anglo-Dutch war on his flagship the London.