H.M.S. Pique was the nameship of a small class of five frigates (Fifth Rates) ordered in 1833 to a design by Sir William Symonds. Laid down at Plymouth in July 1833, she was launched on 21st July 1834 by Miss Ross, the daughter of the Captain Superintendent of the Dockyard, and was completed for sea by the end of the year. Measured at 1,633 tons, she was 160 feet in length with a 49 foot beam and carried an armament of 36-32pdrs. After a brief spell blockading Santander, during the so-called 'Carlist Wars' in Spain, she then sailed a series of trials [against two other naval vessels] before being fitted out to convey the new Governor-General (Lord Gosford) to Canada and to bring home his predecessor Lord Aylmer. Leaving Quebec on 17th September 1835, she ran aground on the Labrador coast but was eventually floated off and continued her eastward Atlantic passage despite serious damage. It was a notable feat to bring her home safely and one which gave her quite a reputation. Thereafter serving off Northern Spain and then at the bombardment of Acre in 1840, she was nearly lost a second time as the result of storm damage in the eastern Mediterranean. After seeing action during the Crimean War off the Russian Pacific coast, she was laid up from 1859 until 1871 when she became an isolation hospital at Plymouth. Retaining this röle until early in the twentieth century, she was finally sold for breaking in 1910.
Condy painted another portrait of Pique, from an entirely different perspective, which was sold in our South Kensington rooms on 9th November 2000 (lot 511).