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Date: 1889
Overall: 655 x 794 mm, 5.4 kg
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00015528
Place Manufactured:Newcastle

User Terms

    This ship portrait of the iron 1,465-ton ship EURYDICE was painted in Newcastle, Australia in 1889. It has the signature of Oliver Godfrey, however the painting has been attributed to George Frederick Gregory Jnr., who worked for Godfrey's photgraphic studio. It was known for early ship photographers to sign artists paintings and then their studio name would appear on photographic reproductions of the painting.

    The three masted vessel is rigged, with sails furled, clearly showing the spars and masts. It is shown starboard broadside, flying a red ensign at the stern and unidentified flags from each of the masts.
    SignificanceThe watercolour is an excellent representative of ship portraits painted in the early twentieth century, and of one that was photographed for reproduction.
    HistoryThe EURYDICE was built by Robert Steele & Co in Greenock, Scotland for Baine & Johnston for use in the East India sugar trade, and launched in late 1874 or early 1875. This painting was completed while the ship was docked in Newcastle on 13 July 1889 loading coal for Probolinggo, Indonesia.

    Artists who painted ship portraits were active in ports around the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In mid 19th century Australia the expansion of shipping as a result of the gold rushes, immigration and increased trade all helped to develop a specialised market for pictures of ships. This market consisted of ship captains and crew, shipping companies and ship builders who demanded total accuracy in the ship's rigging and configuration. Many artists had a marine background and had spent some time at sea, which resulted in what was at times an astonishing facility for capturing in minute detail all kinds of ships under sail.

    As the century progressed and the population grew, the art market diversified. Ship painters branched off to become a separate enterprise. They are known as ship portraitists; commercial artists who worked mostly in watercolour depicting the broadside views of ships at sea. The ship is always meticulously detailed, the seas of lesser concern.

    There were a number of ship painters working in the ports around the Australian coast and over to New Zealand, often producing paintings during the short time that the ship was in port. Works by Australian artists were carried on those ships around the major trading routes to and from Australia and England, America and the grain trade to Scandinavia.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: EURYDICE


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