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The Nancy Packet

Date: 1784
Overall: 425 x 522 mm, 40 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00036378
Place Manufactured:London
Related Place:Bombay,

User Terms

    This engraving shows passengers and crew of the wrecked THE NANCY battling waves and rocks in the ship's boat, while others hold onto the floating wreckage. A woman - possibly Ann Cargill - is shown holding her baby as a large wave is about to come crashing down.

    An excerpt from the explanatory text below reads:

    Wrecked off sicilly, in a storm, on the night of the 25th of febry 1784, by which the whole of the crew, together with several ladies and gentleman passengers on board, then on their return from india, all unhappily perished : a part of the crew, having, with some of the passengers, embarked in the boat, in hopes of reaching the neighbouring island, but not being able to clear the rocks, the whole company, were by an amazing swell of the sea, all buried in one common grave...
    SignificanceThis unusually romantic engraving by British political caricaturists James Gillray depicts the victims of one of Britain’s legendary shipwrecks - British East India Company packet ship THE NANCY.
    HistoryJames Gillray was a popular and widespread British artist of the Royal Academy whose caricatures of prominent 18th and 19th century figures were highly anticipated by the public. For a short time between 1783 until 1786, Gillray pursued reproductive printmaking - copying the great works of painters such as James Northcote - as well as producing some of his own more 'serious' designs, including The Nancy Packet.

    On 25 February 1784, British East India Company packet ship THE NANCY was carrying mail from Bombay to London with 49 passengers when she hit rocks during a fierce storm west of the Isles of Scilly. As THE NANCY broke up survivors launched the ship's boat - only to be wrecked off Rosvear Island. Of those who died in the shipwreck was the famous 23 year-old British opera singer Ann Cargill (1760 - 1784) and her lover - for whom she left her husband and travelled to India - Captain John Haldane of the British East India Company. When Cargill's body was recovered, she was reported to have been clutching her illegitimate infant child.
    Related People
    Publisher: R Wilkinson

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