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George Chambers (1803-1840)

George Chambers (1803-1840)

The Whaler Phoenix entering Whitby Harbour

signed and dated 'G. Chambers 1825'; oil on canvas
25 x 36in. (63.4 x 91.4cm.)
J. Chapman Esq.,
Eugene Noel Esq., 15 Craven Gardens, London W
John Watkins, Memoir of Chambers the Marine Artist, London, p. 13

Lot Essay

The painting depicts the two whale boats Phoenix and Camden coming into Whitby Harbour. In the life of Chambers is the following order from Mr Chapman: 'Crawford, get him to paint us one; but I should like to have our ship the 'Phoenix' put into it, and she had better be done returning home with a full cargo - her boats at her quarters, the crow's nest, and garland up, just as she appears in the country'. The reference to the 'crow's nest' and the 'garland' refers to the tub-like receptacle at the masthead from which the man on the look-out watched for whales, and whose shout of 'there she blows' was the most welcome news in the silent icebound seas of the north. The 'garland', a hoop of gay ribbons and streamers, also at the masthead, decorated the ship as she neared her port on the homeward voyage, and showed her succesful fishing, and that she had not come home 'clean'.

In the Memoir of Chambers the Marine Artist by Watkins, there is a record showing the scant reward that Chambers received for his work: 'Having a letter of recommendation to Messrs. Chapman, the brokers before mentioned, and one of whom is now the Member of Parliament for Whitby, they bought this picture of the port, which was afterwards engraved by Messrs, Fisher, but the painter received nothing beyond a few copies from the engraver'.

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