Isaac Sailmaker (1633-1721)
Isaac Sailmaker (1633-1721)

H.M.S Gloucester aground on the Lemon and Ower Sandbank, off Great Yarmouth, with H.R.H. James, Duke of York aboard, 6th May 1682

Details
Isaac Sailmaker (1633-1721)
H.M.S Gloucester aground on the Lemon and Ower Sandbank, off Great Yarmouth, with H.R.H. James, Duke of York aboard, 6th May 1682
oil on canvas, unframed
35 x 41¼in. (88.8 x 104.8cm.)

Lot Essay

Built at Limehouse in 1654 under the direction of Master Shipwright Matthew Graves, H.M.S. Gloucester was a third rate of 755 tons measuring 117 feet in length with a 35 foot beam. Records of her armament vary from 50 to 58 guns, depending on her state of readiness for war, but whatever number she mounted, she enjoyed a distinguished service career beginning with the capture of Jamaica in 1655 and including both the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars (1665-67 and 1672-74). During the Third and the last Anglo-Dutch War she fought at the battles of Solebay (28th May 1672) and Schooneveld (28th May and 4th June 1673), all of which greatly contributed to her reputation as a dependable fighting ship.

Thanks to this reputation, at least in part, she was chosen to convey James, Duke of York - King Charles II's brother and the future James II - on a journey to Scotland in the spring of 1682. Bound for Leith under the command of Captain Sir John Berry, Gloucester and her consorts made their way up the coast of East Anglia until, in the early hours of 6th May, the flagship ran aground on the Lemon and Ower Shoal, a sandbank off Great Yarmouth. After beating on the sand for some time, Gloucester soon began to take on water and the Duke of York was hurriedly evacuated to the Mary, one of the accompanying yachts which was standing by to assist. Whilst many men were saved, about 130 lives were lost, including the Earl of Roxburgh, Lords O'Brien and Hopton, and other members of the Duke's retinue. Captain James Aire, who had been entrusted with the squadron's navigation, was dismissed the service amidst rumours of a plot to kill the Duke and although this remained unproven, it was nevertheless a narrow escape for the Lord High Admiral of England and her future king.

This picture is the earliest of three known paintings of this event. A full description and the other pictures of this episode are to be found in The Paintings of the Willem van de Veldes, by M.S. Robinson, vol. 2, p.1055.

Christie's are most grateful to Frank Cockett for his help in attributing this lot.
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