• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7489

    Important Maritime Art

    31 October 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 27

    Thomas Whitcombe (c.1752-1824)

    A view of St. Helier, Jersey, with Elizabeth Castle beyond

    Price Realised  


    Thomas Whitcombe (c.1752-1824)
    A view of St. Helier, Jersey, with Elizabeth Castle beyond
    signed and dated 'Thos Whitcombe/1785' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    35½ x 59½ in. (90 x 151 cm.)

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    This detailed view of the waterfront at St. Helier shows Elizabeth Castle, with the Old North Quay (demolished in the nineteenth century) and the South Pier (which still stands) in the foreground. To the right is a merchant ship at anchor whilst on the left, by the quayside, is an armed Revenue cutter which has recently been in action, perhaps with smugglers, judging by the damage to her sails.

    Elizabeth Castle is one of the best preserved fortresses in the British Isles. The promontory on which it stands was first fortified in the reign of Edward VI although most of the castle was built in the reign of Elizabeth I (hence its name), with Sir Walter Raleigh as its first governor. The castle played an important role in the English Civil War when Jersey, under Philip de Carteret and his nephew Sir George Carteret, remained the only part of Britain not in Parliamentary hands. Charles, Prince of Wales (and the future King Charles II), spent ten weeks at Elizabeth Castle in 1646 before travelling to France and three years later, by which time he was King in exile, returned there to proclaim himself the rightful monarch of England and Wales.

    This work by Thomas Whitcombe was executed only four years after France's last serious attempt to capture Jersey, which took place in January 1781, during the conflicts triggered by the American War of Independence. Thanks to the spirited resistance of Captain Mulcaster, Commander of Elizabeth Castle, the 78th Regiment of Foot and the local militia, the French were defeated at the subsequent battle of Jersey and the island was saved from French occupation.

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    Private collection, U.K.


    London, Royal Academy, 1785, no. 417.