Ir. Baaij may well be called one of our most famous ship model builders. He had the eye, feeling, insight and craftsmanship to build a model. In the museum, he had authentic objects and ship models at his fingertips and, moreover, as an assistant, he could very carefully study Willem van de Velde the Elder’s famous pen painting, ‘Krijgsraad aan boord van De Zeven Provinciën’ and Willem van de Velde the Younger’s portrait of ‘De Zeven Provinciën’, a brilliantly executed pen and brush drawing.
On the occasion of the commemoration of Michiel de Ruyter’s three-hundredth birth anniversary in 1907, it was planned to build a lifelike replica of ‘De Zeven Provinciën’. Baaij must have started building the model then and was eventually able to finish most of it. It must have been an extremely time-consuming and complicated job.
The five admiralty colleges did not build their ships according to drawings. The V.O.C. did not build according to drawing either, although it did standardise the dimensions of masts, yards and frames. Sculpture, for instance for the transom, was made according to orders and wishes and also the armament, the number of pieces (cannons) was determined by the V.O.C. or the Admiralties. Ultimately, the shipbuilding masters at the shipyard determined how the ship was built.
‘The Seven Provinces’ Michiel de Ruyter’s flagship with which he achieved his greatest military successes.
The construction of ‘De Zeven Provinciën’ was started by the Maze itself in 1664. Builder was Salomon Jansz. van den Tempel. The ship was 163 feet long by a beam of 43 feet and launched for the city in July 1665. A new flagship was desperately needed as the ‘Eendracht’ had flown in shortly before. After outfitting in Rotterdam, the final outfitting with armament, crew and supplies took place in the naval port of Hellevoetsluis.
The Seven Provinces’ was a ship of the line with 80 pieces, 492 sailors and 38 soldiers. It initially served as the flagship of Vice Admiral Van Nes. From 1666 to 1674, it was Admiral De Ruyter’s flagship. The ship participated in the Four-Day Sea Battle in 1666, the Two-Day Sea Battle in the same year, the trip to Chatham in 1667, the Battle of Solebay in 1672, the battle of Schooneveld in 1673 and the Battle of Kijkduin in 1673.
In 1678, De Zeven Provinciën was the flagship of Rear Admiral Jan Brakel, was spotted leaking at Cape La Hogue in 1692 under Captain Evert de Liefde and sold for scrap in 1694.
We have existed as an art dealer for more than 50 years, and during this period it is only the second time we have been able to purchase a model of comparable quality.