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Blue Anchor Line steamship

Date: 1909
Overall: 870 x 1280 x 20 mm, 10.3 kg
Sight: 565 x 970 mm
Mount: 720 x 1130 mm
Medium: Watercolour paints on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Robert Laurence McKilliam
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00028491

User Terms

    A watercolour painting of an unnamed Blue Anchor Line steamship.
    The artist's monogramme "A L F" and date "10 - 1 - 1909" appear at lower right corner.
    SignificanceThis is the first depiction of a Blue Anchor Line vessel acquired for the Australian National Maritime Museum
    collection. As a line which regularly carried cargo and people to and from Australia on the Cape run for forty years
    the Blue Anchor Line has a significant place in Australian maritime history.
    HistoryLunds operated the Britain - Australia - China trade by way of the Cape of Good Hope between 1869 and 1910, when it was bought by P&O. It then became the P&O Branch Service, but continued for two or three years to carry the blue
    anchor symbol. In earlier years the trade was cargo with limited passenger accommodation. In the mid-1890s Lunds
    began to cater for larger numbers of passengers, establishing a regular monthly service between England and
    Australia via the Cape. Nearly all the ships had Australian names, such as YARRAWONGA, WALLARAH, WILCANNIA, COMMONWEALTH, GEELONG. In 1908, a larger new ship, the WARATAH, was commissioned, but it disappeared at sea in July 1909, and this proved the end of Lunds, who then sold out to P&O.
    The ship depicted is almost certainly the ill - fated WARATAH.
    It is a smart looking steamer for the era, with one funnel and two masts, the configuration of all the Lund steamers.
    The colours accord with descriptions of the Blue Anchor livery: black hull, coffee - coloured upper works, white banded black funnel with blue anchor. It is wearing the blue anchor house flag from the top of the after mast, the red ensign at the stern, and a plain red pennant from rigging between foremast and funnel (I am unable to find the significance of the pennant; it does not appear in any signal book and is probably a fictional detail by the artist). The ship is shown at full steam running alongside a coastline.
    One noticeably unusual detail is that the four derricks fitted to each mast are shown extended, as if ready to load
    cargo, rather than stowed flush to the mast as would be normal when underway. The same is true of the small crane
    before the funnel, which would be used for loading bunkers; it too should be stowed and would interfere with the funnel
    stays depicted if arrayed as shown. Other minor detail also betrays the artist's lack of nautical experience: the
    differing directions of the ventilators which are not trimmed to the wind, the steam issuing from the safety valve
    (very unusual while the ship was running) , the disproportionate depiction of the wheel house, and finally, the size of the bow wave - much too large for a ship of this type and probable speed.
    All this suggests that the artist painted the ship as seen or photographed while lying at a wharf, but set it at sea
    with a coastline behind, not realising that the details above would be different. There is also reason to suspect
    that the painting was unfinished, owing to the lack of detail on the forepeak and bow by comparison with the
    rendering of the stern. Most notably the jack staff and ship's name are absent.

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