Identification of sailing boats

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Identification of sailing boats

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    Mike McCutcheon M

      I am trying to “place” one of my mother’s oil paintings. There are quite a lot of clues but I don’t have enough knowledge to take advantage of them. I wonder whether anyone can identify the location by recognizing the design of the sailing boats (or by using the other clues, of course).

      I will try to attach an image of the painting and 4 zoomed-in details but I am new to this.

      For the time being, I will resist saying what thoughts I have had so far (especially as some contradict others).

      Obviously the (unnamed) artist might have made up the whole scene or combined elements of different locations ….

      Many thanks.

      1 Overall painting
      2 Boats on the left
      3 Boats on the right
      4 Soldiers
      5 Castle

      Matthew W

        Could this scene be Prague? The bridge certainly resembles the Charles Bridge.

        Frank Scott

          My guess from the rig of the small craft & their hull form is that it would be somewhere in the Adriatic, on the Dalamatian coast.
          The flag flown from the castle is a puzzle as I cannot turn up anything like it, and I will try to find a tame vexillogist to sort that out

          Malcolm Lewis

            Super big pictures. Didn’t know this was possible on the Forum. How does one go about this please?

            Frank Scott

              I posted the flag question on another forum & the most detailed response was as follows:

              “I went to my historical atlas and listed all the nation states of Europe from 1700-1900 – and all I discovered was that three vertical colourings on a flag are few and not relevant from my Google search. Margraves of the Austro-Hungarian Empire drew a blank, as did the Cantons of Switzerland, the minor Italian states pre unification, Military Orders of Europe, Napoleonic minor states the same. Major ducal families, the Venetian Republic vassal cities had flags of varying dispositions but none as shown in the picture yet the picture, although indistinct does present an European ‘feel’ to it but none of the major ports of the Adriatic possessed such a design. Marine Paintings of the 18th and 19th century reference books drew a blank as did reference works of major and minor marine artists. It would help if the name of the artist was known as that might present an opportunity to ascertain his or her modus operandi and where. I retire defeated from the field with a nagging possibility that the artist ‘should have gone to specsavers’. Last but not least, I checked quarantine flags!”

              That seems very thorough, and I have similarly failed to find anything that could match the flag. I have also become concerned by other features in the picture, and consider that it quite likely to be a work of imagination. As noted the absence of a name for the artist does not make life easier, & I wonder if a signature might be revealed if it was taken out of the frame.

              Mike McCutcheon M

                Thanks v much for the replies and apologies for the late response – for some reason I didn’t get email notification of moderation or replies.

                Matthew, in a few minutes searching for the Charles Bridge, I can’t find a photo with the same details (buttresses etc) as in the photo but I will look closer. Interestingly, the churches on the left do look central European to my untrained eye.

                Frank (1), I agree about the hull shape. Distinctly Venetian. The distant castle in the middle looks Islamic to my (always untrained) eye and in theory there could be a place in the Balkans on the border between Christian and Islamic architecture. Good word “vexillogist” – I must try to drop it into conversation !

                Malcolm, I stumbled into getting the pictures so large (too large?). I think I used the img button above the reply box AND the attachments box below the reply box. I see that I got an upload error for each photo and “File exceeds allowed file size” so presumably only one of those 2 methods worked. Anyway it’s a good feature of the forum.

                Frank (2), thanks again. Good research from your vexillogist ! I’ve always had a nagging feeling that it’s a compilation. A big clue seems to be that the waters are tidal. I was sailing in Northern Croatia this summer (but not as far North as the Trieste area) and there didn’t seem to be enough tidal range for the painting to be accurate. Therefore I have wondered whether it’s in North Portugal / NW Spain in the Peninsular War era. I’m not sure if Moorish architecture spread that far north-west. The Portugues did have some high-sterned designs going back in history. The soldiers look as if they could be French.

                I must ask my mother again about a signature.

                Hey ho, no progress but it’s a good puzzle – assuming it’s not insoluable. Plenty of clues for experts in various fields – probably all contradictory !

                Thanks again.

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