• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5887

    Maritime Art

    13 May 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 702

    Francis Swaine (1715-1783)

    A squadron of the fleet bearing down on the royal yacht Royal Caroline off Harwich

    Price Realised  

    Francis Swaine (1715-1783)
    A squadron of the fleet bearing down on the royal yacht Royal Caroline off Harwich
    pen and grey ink and wash
    8¾ x 14¼ in. (22.3 x 36.2 cm.)


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    The ship-rigged yacht in the foreground of this charming work has traditionally been identified as the Royal Caroline, principal yacht to King George II and named in honour of his wife Caroline [of Ansbach]. Built at Deptford by Mr. J. Allin in 1749 and designed as a sixth-rate mounting 10-3pdrs. and 8-1/2 pdr. swivel guns, she was measured at 232 tons burden with a 90 foot gundeck and a 24 foot beam. The largest royal yacht to date and the only such vessel to exceed 200 tons until Royal Sovereign was launched in 1804, she was one of the most sumptuously decorated vessels ever constructed and her full ship rig required a crew of 70 men to handle. She was also a uniquely important link in the development of fast sailing vessels for the Royal Navy and her hull lines, inherited from the last years of the seventeenth century, were scaled up for some of the new frigates and sloops of the 1750s whilst her design was being re-used as late as 1804. Quite apart from her many other duties, George II's frequent visits to Hanover meant that she was in constant use ferrying him to and from the continent and she remained a firm favourite with the King until his death in 1760.

    Renamed Royal Charlotte by George III in honour of his new wife Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg in 1760, she remained in constant use throughout most of George III's long reign and was only finally broken up in 1820, the same year that the King himself died.

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