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The sinking of the SS ELINGAMITE

Date: 1902
Overall: 562 x 715 mm, 2.5 kg
Medium: Oil paint, board
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00000048

User Terms

    This painting signed by W Baggatt (possibly Barratt) depicts the SS ELINGAMITE sinking off Three Kings Island in 1902. The ELINGAMITE was built in 1887 for the Huddart Parker Line.
    SignificanceThis painting is an excellent example of a dramatic scene in late 19th and early 20th Australian ship portraiture.
    HistoryThis painting is signed what appears to be W Baggat, but may be W Barrat, an artist who worked with Dufty and whose very similar signature appears on other paintings clearly as Barratt.

    Late nineteenth-early twentieth century photographic studios, in particular Dufty's, were renowned for tampering with paintings in reproducing them for a mass market. Artists were often employed to finish paintings from other artists sketches. Numerous paintings from this period had multiple artists working on them. Dufty often countersigned the opposite corner to an artists signature in order to have have his studio appear in photographic reproductions of paintings. Dufty's studios are reported to have made reproductions of the ELINGAMITE painting.

    This painting may also have been originally sketched by George Frederick Gregory junior who worked with Dufty and Barratt. Several of Gregory's paintings from this time were overpainted afterwards by other studio artists.

    SS ELINGAMITE was a cargo ship built by C S Swan and Hunter, Newcastle in 1887 to replace the recently lost Huddart Parker vessel CORANGAMITE. ELINGAMITE followed CORANGAMITE's route of carrying coal from Newcastle, NSW to Melbourne and then returning to Sydney with general cargo and passengers. After an upgrade to improve the accommodation on the ship in 1890, ELINGAMITE entered the passenger route between Sydney and Hobart until being moved to the New Zealand trade - Sydney to Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton and Dunedin.

    On 5 November 1902, ELINGAMITE left Sydney for Auckland carrying 59 crew and 136 passengers. The ship was also carrying fifty-two boxes of gold and silver coins for consignment by the Bank of New South Wales to its offices in Dunedin and Lyttelton. On 9 November under heavy fog, the ship ran aground onto West King Island and began to sink. Despite the launch of ELINGAMITE's lifeboats and a coordinated search and rescue by nearby vessel ZEALANDIA, forty five people perished in the disaster. Efforts to retrieve the cargo of gold and silver were undertaken but the combination of the position of the wreck, isolated location of the Island and heavy seas confounded efforts. In 1907 and 1908 two divers lost their lives searching for the treasure. Further attempts were made in 1967, retrieving a small amount of the bullion, however the dangerous conditions thwarted efforts once again and the residual cargo still remains with the wreck.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: SS ELINGAMITE

    Primary title: The sinking of the SS ELINGAMITE

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