Frederick the Great didn’t show particular appreciation in describing his grandfather Frederick III. of Brandenburg (Frederick I. of Prussia): “Friedrich war zwar ohne Festigkeit, eitel und glanzsüchtig, (..) im ganzen aber groß in kleinen Dingen und klein in großen.” “Ihm lag mehr am blendenden Glanz als am Nützlichen, das bloß gediegen ist.” As a child of his time, Fredrick III./I. mirrored the Versailles court, where the splendour of courtly culture fulfilled a function in diplomacy. As a child of his parents, the Dutch princess Luise Henrietta and Kurfurst Frederick William, who studied in Leiden, was thus naturally inclined towards the Netherlands.
His father paved the way for a maritime power, attracting many Dutch craftsmen for his maritime, architectural and artistic projects. His son would continue this line in the construction of canals, harbours, gardens and a fleet of pleasure yachts.
In 1698, Frederick III. appointed the Amsterdam naval painter and shipbuilder Michiel Maddersteeg, according to Houbraken the most talented pupil and follower of Ludolf Backhuysen, as a Brandenburg court painter with an annual stipend of 1,000 Thaler. This was conditional on working exclusively for the Elector. His commissions were not limited to painting seascapes; he also designed ships. Thus Frederick ordered a yacht, which was transported across Hamburg to Berlin amid great interest. This laid ground for further cooperation: a year later, Maddersteeg was commissioned to build a pleasure yacht for 100,000 Thaler at his yard on Bickerseiland. The ‘Fredericus I’ would go down in history as the most expensive yacht ever built in Amsterdam.
After this drawing, court engraver Johann Wilhelm Wolfgang made an engraving in 1707. The yacht was praised in two odes by Dutch poet David van Hoogstraten.