Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Watercolour depicting the schooner TOM FISHER

Date: 1884-1930
Overall: 810 × 975 × 60 mm
Image: 410 × 615 mm
Medium: watercolour on paper, timber
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00054275

User Terms

    This ship portrait depicts a coastal vessel which operated along the NSW and Queensland coastal routes and across to New Zealand in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries. The TOM FISHER was built by Captain James Beattie for himself and Thomas Fisher in 1884 at Beattie's Balmain yard. Fisher and Beattie took out a mortgage of 1200 pounds to build the vessel but Fisher died that year, leaving his estate to the University of Sydney. The university called in the mortgage and the schooner was sold.

    The work is signed and dated by the artist William Forster, one of colonial Australia's competent port painters and were most probably commissioned when the vessel was launched, to commemorate the event. Importantly this portrait and the model used to build the schooner was kept by the Beattie family, and along with other ship portraits and coastal shipping material, helps form a picture of the development of communities with shipping connections all along the Australian coastline.

    This painting by William Forster of the schooner TOM FISHER was painted in 1884 and represents the vessel sailing out of Sydney Harbour, close to South Head with the light ship marking the Sow and Pigs reef in the background astern of the vessel.

    HistoryThe schooner TOM FISHER is a coastal vessel which operated in the NSW and Queensland coastal trade out of Brisbanecarrying general cargo, coal, rails, timber and suppliesin the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries. It may have been sold to New Zealand in 1909 while tis registration was cancelled in 1912 on the advice that it had been sold to French foreigners in Tahiti.

    The TOM FISHER was built by Captain James Beattie for himself and Thomas Fisher in 1884 at Beattie's Balmain yard. Fisher and Beattie took out a mortgage of 1200 pounds to build the vessel but Fisher died that year, leaving his estate to the University of Sydney. The university called in the mortgage and the schooner was sold.

    The schooner was recorded in newspapers as 88 feet in length and registered at 83.4 feet, breadth 20.4 Depth 7.19 feet. The model is estimated to be 1:32 or 3/8 inch to 1 foot scale. It is made up to the deck line, and includes the rudder and docking keel, but no stem.

    The vessel was registered in Sydney 1884 owned by Robert Henry Duncan, then in Brisbane by GM Gummow.SR Maxwell & CO is also recorded as an owner. (Mori Flapan The vessels was apparently sold at Tahiti in 1912 after which it disappears.

    Henry and James Beattie were well known late 19th century ship builder listed in Sands directories as shipbuilder at Weston Street Balmain 1875 (need to check 1870), 1880, Henry and James had separate listings, both at Little Weston street Balmain 1900, James Beattie 21 Little Weston st Balmain 1905

    The artist of the ship portraits: William Forster 1851-91
    William Forster was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England in February 1851. In 1871 he travelled to New Zealand and established a career as a marine artist. Around 1879 he arrived in Sydney, Australia where he painted ships visiting Sydney Harbour and Newcastle. Throughout the 1880s Forster produced a prolific number of ship paintings of high quality. He had a distinctive style and brush stroke, and painted in watercolour.
    Ships and yachts were the only subjects Forster painted. His brushwork was distinctively delicate and the detail was technically of a high standard. He died on 17 May 1891 of diptheria and was buried in a pauper's grave.(Daina Fletcher, Australian Sea Heritage Number 22 pp26-27).

    Forster, William J Sands directories - Datchett st Balmain 1887; Foster, William J Curtis Rd Balmain 1884

    reklevant artciles form TROVE

    'SCHOONER TOM FISHER.Brisbane Courier 11 April 1908 p5.
    The schooner Tom Fisher left Brisbane at the latter end of 'last week witlh ninety seven tons of coal for Ballina. The vessel returned to Bulwer at 12.30 p.m. on Tlmrs-day. Advices received in Brisbane yesterday were to the effect that the vessel encountered the full force of the recent gale when near the lliohmond River, and had her sails blown lo ribbons. She returned to Bulwer to effect repairs, and also to take in fresh water.'

    The schooner Tom Fisher which arrived in Sydney from Cairns on November 20, 1909 owned by Mr George M Gummow of Brisbane sold to Mr Young of Auckland NZ to operate around the Fiji Islands. noted as built in Sydney in 1884 woonden vessel of 74 tons, lenght 88ft, beam 20ft 4ins, depth 7ft 2in - price unavailable. Trove Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate Wednesday 29 December 1909 p4.

    Information on Settree

    Settree - MyHeritage Family Trees - World Vital Records
    records for Settree in MyHeritage Family Trees.
    Alfred William Morrow (Captain) Settree - 1820-1906.
    Alfred William Robert Settree - 1845 -1926

    Alfred William Morrow Settree was a shipwright who built seven vessels at Davistown (Kincumber?) between 1869 and 1879 including the Day Dawn, Edith Keep and Dewdrop.  The Day Dawn was built to transport lime from the shells in Brisbane Waters to Sydney.(Gosford Council history) His son Alfred William Robert Morrow Settree was also a shipwright, recorded building 3 ships in Balmain, and also built a ship in Bawley Point in 1912. I believe the Setrees had the first land grant in the Woy Woy inlet, now Woy Woy Bay.
    ( Ancestry posting

    Trove obit Captain AW Settree
    The death occurred recently at The Moor- ings, St. George's Crescent, Drummoyne, of Captain Alfred W. Settree, at the age of 81 years. A native of Sydney, he was a son of
    the late Mr. Alfred Settree, and was one of the pioneers in the shipbuilding Industry in New South Wales, having constructed a large number of coastal vessels that were used in the timber trade. Later, he commenced busi- ness in Sussex-street in the timber trade, from which he retired about 20 years ago. Cap- tain Settree was an enthusiastic bowler. He was founder of the Wollongong Bowling Club and its first president, and was for many years a member of the Gladstone Park and Drummoyne Clubs.
    Captain Settree is survived by Mrs. Settree and two sons - Messrs. Alfred Settree, Wol- longong; and Benjamin Settree, Balmain-and five daughters-Mrs. Albert Lane, Balmain; Mrs. W. Williams, Drummoyne; Mrs. H. Crick, Double Bay; Mrs. Tickle, Artarmon, and Miss R. Settree.The funeral, which took place at Kincumber Cemetery, was attended by a representative gathering.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)(about) Tuesday 20 April 1926 p12
    Related People

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.