The present work is a modello, or finished oil sketch, for the composition that van Wieringen was commissioned to paint for Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau, now in the Maritime Museum, Amsterdam. It depicts the celebrated sea-battle that took place in the Bay of Cadiz on the 25th April, 1607 and which became a crucial event in the history of the Netherlands’ fight for independence against the Spanish. During the Eighty-year War, the Dutch fleet, led by Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck, surprised the Spanish fleet that was anchored off the coast of Gibraltar.
Within four hours, Don Juan d’Alvares d’Avila’s entire fleet was destroyed. In the present modello the ship on the lefthand side most likely represents Captain Adriaen Roest’s ship; while to the right of this the two Dutch men o’war under the command of Symon and Cornelis Madder can be seen going alongside the Spanish Vice-Admiral’s three-master. Vice-Admiral Laurens Jacobsz. Alteras’s flagship is depicted on the right, before the coast of Cadiz. It is thought that Abraham de Verwer was also asked to paint a modello for the Battle of Gibraltar, April 25, 1607.