Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter, Lieutenant-Admiral-General of the United Provinces (1607-1676)
This is one of a series of six near-identical state portraits of the eminent Lieutenant-Admiral, Michiel de Ruyter, produced by Ferdinand Bol between 1667 and 1669. These were commissioned by the governors of regional Admiralties. De Ruyter was the highly revered naval hero in command of the Dutch fleet during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1664-1667). The high esteem in which he was held is evinced in this majestic official portrait. Viewed in three-quarter length, a regally dressed de Ruyter clasps a commander's baton with his right hand. Around his neck he wears a pendant depicting St Michael slaying Satan, alluding to the Order of St Michael, into which he was admitted in 1666. Following victory in the Four Days Battle, between 1 and 4 June 1666, the Amsterdam Admiralty presented de Ruyter with the gold chain and gold-filigree sword belt proudly displayed in this portrait. Contemporary details in the picture attest to de Ruyter's successful seamanship: a large Blaeu celestial globe with a navigational chart and two pairs of dividers sit on the red-draped table, lower left. One of the dividers points to the chart, which shows a faint illustration of Walcheren, an island at the mouth of the Schelde estuary, where de Ruyter was born in the town of Vlissingen (Flushing). The town's explicit emblematic presence in this illustrious portrait serves to immortalize de Ruyter as a local, as well as a national, hero. De Ruyter's crumpled brow, ruddy cheeks and piercing gaze all reflect his age and experience, alluding to his well-known status as a Dutch national 'BestevaÃ”Ã²Ã¡Ã”Ã²Ã¹r' or 'grandfather'. Technical examination of the picture has revealed that the ships in the background on the right were painted on a separate, small rectangular canvas which was then inserted into the main portrait. This seascape was painted by Willem van de Velde the Younger. It meticulously depicts the Dutch fleet, accompanied by de Ruyter's flagship, the Zeven Provincien. The image refers to the savage Four Days Battle, when de Ruyter led the Dutch to victory.
- Image reference: BHC2997
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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