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    Sale 7660

    Maritime Art

    29 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 37

    Thomas Whitcombe (C. 1752-1824)

    The East Indiaman Rodney in two positions off the English coast, firing a salute to mark her safe return from Bengal in August, 1788

    Price Realised  

    Thomas Whitcombe (C. 1752-1824)
    The East Indiaman Rodney in two positions off the English coast, firing a salute to mark her safe return from Bengal in August, 1788
    signed and dated 'Thos. Whitcombe 1788' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    28 x 48 in. (71.2 x 122 cm.)


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    Named in honour of Admiral Lord Rodney, the victor of several major Anglo-French naval engagements during the American War of Independence, the ship Rodney was launched in January 1782 from the Thameside yard of Randall, Gray & Brent at Rotherhithe. A classic East Indiaman of 772 tons, she was built for Mr. Donald Cameron, one of the managing owners of the mighty East India Company, and she measured 117 feet in length with a 35 foot beam. After nine months of fitting out, she sailed from Portsmouth - along with a convoy of eight other East Indiamen - on 11th September 1782, bound for Bengal and the Coromandel Coast of India. Her first master, Captain Henry Wakeham, brought her home safely to the Downs in May 1784 and then took her on her second voyage to the same destinations from March 1785 until May 1786. Three further round trips to India followed under Captain Allan Chatfield, the first of which ended when she arrived in the Downs on 15th August 1788, and Rodney's last recorded voyage, to Bengal under Captain Carruthers, lasted from July 1795 until she arrived home in August 1796. Offered for sale thereafter, she seems to have escaped the breakers by being used as a transport although this is unconfirmed.

    It seems highly probable that this work was commissioned by Captain Allan Chatfield to mark the safe return home of his ship Rodney at the end of the first voyage for which he had been in command. The fact that this was not the vessel's maiden voyage would seem to preclude it being commissioned by her owner.

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    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium