Maritime Art

Morning: A lugger close on a wind; and an Indiaman preparing to weigh.

By Joseph Cartwright (1789-1829)

An engraving by Robert Havell (1769-1832) of a painting by Joseph Cartwright (1789-1829). The lugger is shown on the port tack making ground to windward with all sail set and her reefs out. In the background is an East Indiaman, preparing to weigh.

Cartwright had the maritime world in his blood. He was born in Dawlish in Devon,  at the mouth of the Exe estuary and then worked for the navy as an administrator –  without actually joining up –  and rose to be paymaster-general of the British forces at Corfu in 1815. While he was there he painted – and some of the work he created came to be published as Views in the Ionian Islands, published in 1821. He pursued a career as an artist when he returned from Corfu and enjoyed some good success, showing work at the Royal Academy, the British Institution, and the Society of British Artists’ galleries in Suffolk Street from 1823 to 1829. His reputation continued to rise and in 1828 he was appointed marine painter in ordinary to the duke of Clarence, later William IV.

The Society has published a number of works on themes that appear in this painting including, in 2005, ‘The Lugger Brilliant An Anglo-French sea-link between Polperro and Bayonne at the end of the eighteenth century’, an investigation of an illustration on a plate dating from 1800 led to the discovery that the vessel Brilliant was captured from the Cornish cree who had been granted privateer status, and resumed a successful career as part of the French navy.

From 1959, the article ‘Deal Luggers‘  explores  how six types of boat evolved between 1850 and1900 in the Deal area.   The Lugger was a large, two masted open boat with straight bow, balanced-lug rigged used for hovelling, salvage and life-saving. The Cat was smaller and cheaper but built to the same design and purpose. The Half Boat was smaller than a cat and netted herring. The Punt was also built on lugger lines, 12-16ft long and used for line fishing. The single-masted galley-punt was a noble boat, all-round useful. The fast Galley, rowed by six men, was used for light loads, emergencies and, famously, smuggling.

From 1932, ‘Models of Dutch East-Indiamen, 1716 to 1725′, is an article based on the discovery of another model of a Dutch East-Indiaman, which led RC Anderson  to re-examine the previously researched models. The Dutch East India Company rated their ships as either 160, 145 or 130 feet but these lengths are confusing due to the use of either ‘Amsterdam’ or ‘Rhineland’ feet, which are at variance with their English equivalent. However, the models representing specific ships appear to be relatively accurate and from his research Anderson has provided a significant amount of detail of both the models and the actual East-Indiamen.

From 1940, ‘Admiral Joao Pereira Corte-Real and the Construction of Portuguese East-Indiamen in the Early Seventeenth Century’, explores how, between 1580 and 1640, when she was dominated by Spain during the ‘Sixty Years of Captivity’, Portugal still produced good pilots and mariners. Despite the loss of national independence the Portuguese yards at Lisbon, Oporto, and Goa continued to build ships that aroused the envy and admiration of foreigners. Corte-Real gained practical experience by completing trading voyages to India, which he put to use with his proposals for regulating the Portuguese navigation and trade with India from 1619. His Discourse, printed in 1622 influenced the construction of Portuguese East-India ships and the payment of their crews. The remuneration of crew by allowing them to carry duty free goods, instead of paying wages, encouraged the building of large unseaworthy vessels rendering long voyages hazardous. As Corte-Real and his supporters gained influential positions the substitution of larger carracks by galleons and smaller naus accelerated, improving the survival of Portuguese fleets to the East Indies.

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