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Date: c 1866
Overall: 68 x 98.3 mm
Medium: Oil on canvas in wood frame
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00009342
Place Manufactured:United Kingdom

User Terms

    This portrait depicts the English clipper ship SOBRAON from the starboard side. The vessel is shown fully rigged with sails unfurled, except for the mizzenmast's lower sail. Flying from its main mast is the house flag of the shipping line, Devitt and Moore. During the 19th century many artists were commissioned to paint ship portraits by Captains or ship owners. This portrait coincides with the ships launch around 1866 and highlights its role as a passenger transport to Australia.
    SignificanceThe SOBRAON is a prominent ship in Australian maritime history. It was used for transporting cargo and passengers, a boy’s reformatory and a training facility for the Royal Australian Navy. Its long career highlights Australian immigration, commerce, law and defence in the 19th and 20th centuries.
    HistoryDuring the 19th century many artists were active in ports around the world painting ship portraits. Many of their patrons were foreign ship owners or crew members who wanted to commemorate a vessel or maritime event. The artist usually had a direct link to the maritime world and had gained their technical knowledge from working on ships. As a result many artists show exceptional skill in capturing the minute detail on vessels.

    The era of the clipper ships was dominated by a sense of romance, competition, national pride and innovative technology. The sleek and graceful clipper ships were a symbol of American modernity and fundamental to the expanding global economy. Their design concentrated on speed instead of cargo capacity, which was a great benefit to shipping companies eager to transport goods quickly. This sense of romance and sentimentalism made them ideal subjects for ship portraits.

    The SOBRAON was a three-masted British clipper ship built at Aberdeen, Scotland by the famous shipbuilder, Alexander Hall. In 1866 it was the largest composite ship to be launched. For twenty-four years it acted as a passenger and freight transport between Britain and Australia. In 1891 the ship's owners Devitt and Moore sold SOBRAON to the NSW Government, who was seeking a replacement ship for the boy’s reformatory vessel moored off Cockatoo Island, Sydney. SOBRAON continued to be used as a reformatory until 1911 when it was replaced by a land based institute at Eastwood. In 1912 the SOBRAON was sold to the Commonwealth government and re-commissioned HHAS TINGIRA, as a Navy training facility. In 1927 the Navy decommissioned TINGIRA and after a number of subsequent owners it was broken up in 1942.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: "Sobraon"

    Web title: SOBRAON

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