As the progenitor of marine art, Willem van de Velde the Elder taught his youngest son his craft in his Amsterdam studio, and later sent him to study under Dutch marine artist Simon de Vlieger in Weesp. The younger Van de Velde favored a sense of "majestic compositions" which had eluded his father to a greater degree, despite his extremely accurate portrayals of ships. The Dutch masters sailed together for England in 1672, after the passing of the youngest son, Adriaen. They became the favored marine artists to King Charles II and his brother, Lord High Admiral James, and other noble patrons. Willem the Younger soon found his calling in portraying of important maritime events, not from first-hand observations but from the spoken naval accounts of the officers.
Willem the Younger started his artistic career painting in the smooth tones and style of his father, who favored grisselle in a monochromatic fashion, but evolved once in England into the most prominent artist of his day, influencing the coming generations of British Marine artists. Once established as an official marine artist to the royalty, he began attending important nautical events, and was in high demand his entire career.
Works by Willem van de Velde the Younger are in some of the world's most important marine art collections, including the J.Paul Getty Museum, the Liechtenstein Museum, the Hermitage Museum of Russia, Royal Picture Gallery of The Hague, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, London's National Gallery London, Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum and of course the National Maritime Museum of Greenwich.