• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2067

    Maritime Art

    3 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 133

    Montague Dawson, F.R.S.A.,R.S.M.A. (British, 1895-1973)

    High Noon, The Walmer Castle

    Price Realised  


    Montague Dawson, F.R.S.A.,R.S.M.A. (British, 1895-1973)
    High Noon, The Walmer Castle
    signed 'Montague Dawson' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    28 x 42 in. (71 x 106.8 cm.)

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    Despite being constantly referred to as a 'Blackwall frigate', the Walmer Castle was actually built at Sunderland, in the far north-east of England, rather than anywhere near Blackwall on London's River Thames. Launched from Pile's Yard in 1855, she was ordered by Green's of London for their extensive fleet of Indian trading ships and, like those of her larger sisters which had also been designed and built by William Pile, she proved a highly successful vessel.

    Registered at 1,064 tons (gross & net) and measuring 193 feet in length with a 35 foot beam, she sported a full ship-rig and, when completed, looked every inch the thoroughbred she soon became. Under her first master Captain C.L. Daniel, she began her career with two round trips from London to Melbourne, each taking approximately a year, after which, as she lay idle in the London docks awaiting her third voyage, she found herself chartered by the British government to take troops to India where the 'Great Mutiny' was in its final phase. Early in August 1858, she loaded 400 troops at Gravesend - cavalry as well as infantry - and disembarked them at Calcutta on 23rd November after a fairly speedy though uneventful passage. Returning home with a complement including 100 invalided soldiers, 9 women and 18 children, she sailed from Calcutta on 26th January 1859 and arrived off Gravesend in May after a passage of 109 days and an absence from England which had lasted 9= months. The voyage home was a melancholy one however, with numerous deaths amongst both crew and soldiers, mostly from diseases such as dysentery which spread easily in the confined spaces of the ship's holds.

    Thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, Walmer Castle then began ten years of regular sailings to Calcutta, Madras and China, usually completing one round trip per annum and carrying a variety of cargoes in addition to passengers to and from their colonial destinations. Her final years under Green's colours found her trading to the Cape of Good Hope and Australia as well as India, and she also did some runs from Cardiff to Bombay and Rangoon ironically carrying the Welsh steam coal which was already sounding the death knell of commercial sail. Sold to John Kemp Welch, another London shipowner, in 1874, he re-rigged her as a barque to cut costs only to find his investment prematurely cut short when Walmer Castle was destroyed by fire whilst loading cargo at Samarang (Java) on Christmas Day 1876.

    The term 'Blackwall frigates' was a generic name applied to a breed of commercial sailing ships built for the lucrative India trade between 1837 and 1869, following the expiration of the East India Company's monopoly in 1833 which thereafter opened the eastern trade routes to all comers. The name derived from the fact that many - but by no means all - of these vessels were built by Green & Wigram in their yards at Blackwall, on the Thames, and because they were said to be 'frigate-built', not in the sense of resembling the naval frigates of the day but in that they were faster than the older and more traditional East Indiamen of the previous generation.


    with Frost & Reed, Ltd., London

    Pre-Lot Text

    Arthur I. Appleton was born in Chicago, Illinois on 14th October, 1915. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he went on to become the President and Chairman of Appleton Electric, before its sale to Emerson Electric in 1982. His life was distinguished by two distinct passions - horses, maritime, and fine art. His love of horse racing began at an early age when he would regularly attend race meetings with his father. In 1977, he acquired Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Florida, which led to him becoming one of the nation's top thoroughbred breeders and racehorse owners. The fact that the horse farm is still active today is a great tribute to him and perhaps one of his greatest legacies.
    An ardent and diverse collector, his passion for art, combined with his desire for the people of Ocala to have a local museum led to his founding The Appleton Cultural Center (The Appleton Museum of Art). The center opened in Ocala in 1987 and currently operates under the auspices of Central Florida Community College. Generous donations by Mr. Appleton and his sister, Edith-Marie Appleton, funded the construction of the museum on land granted by the City of Ocala. The museum houses part of Appleton's extensive and diverse collection of 19th century paintings and sculpture, pre-Columbian Art, African Art and Asian Art. Since opening, it has expanded to incorporate traveling exhibitions, educational programs and cultural events for the people of central Florida.