The current work is a modello, or elaborate oil sketch, for the composition that Van Wieringen painted for Prince Maurits van Oranje-Nassau, now in the Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam. It depicts the famous naval battle that took place in the Bay of Cadiz on April 25, 1607, which became a pivotal event in the history of the Netherlands’ struggle for independence against the Spaniards. During the Eighty Years’ War, the Dutch fleet, led by Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck, surprised the Spanish fleet anchored off the coast of Gibraltar. Within four hours, Don Juan d’Alvares d’Avila’s entire fleet was destroyed. In the current model, the ship on the left probably represents Captain Adriaen Roest’s ship; while to its right the two Dutch warriors commanded by Symon and Cornelis Madder can be seen sailing alongside the three-masted ship of the Spanish Vice-Admiral. The flagship of Vice Admiral Laurens Jacobsz. Alteras’ flagship is pictured to the right, off the coast of Cadiz. Presumably Abraham de Verwer was also asked to paint a modello for the Battle of Gibraltar.
Purchased for the Dutch Maritime Museum Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, Maritime Museum, and The Hague, The Mauritshuis, Looking back in admiration , 1982, no. 95
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans van Beuningen and Berlin. Gemäldegalerie im Bodesmuseum, Praise of Seafaring. The Dutch marine painters of the 17th century, 1996-97, cat. no. 10