Thomas Luny (London 1759-1837 Teignmouth)
Thomas Luny (London 1759-1837 Teignmouth)

The Sixth Rate H.M.S. Bridgewater in three positions off Sandgate, the North Foreland

Details
Thomas Luny (London 1759-1837 Teignmouth)
The Sixth Rate H.M.S. Bridgewater in three positions off Sandgate, the North Foreland
oil on canvas
32 x 56 in. (81.3 x 142.3 cm.)
Provenance
with The Rutland Gallery.

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Lot Essay

Thomas Luny first exhibited in 1777 at the age of eighteen, and, at this time was living with and apprenticed to Francis Holman (1729-1790). Luny's early style very much imitated that of Holman, and the master's influence is certainly in evidence in this work offered above.

The 24-gun H.M.S. Bridgewater was launched in Southampton in 1744, a year after her predecessor had been wrecked off Newfoundland. Ill-luck appears to have followed the name Bridgewater and the ship depicted here ran aground on 28th April 1758 at Cuddalore, in the Bay of Bengal, where she was burnt by her crew in order to avoid capture by the French. Given the fact that this picture was painted retrospectively, it is highly likely that the work was commissioned by an officer who had previously served on H.M.S. Bridgewater in order to remind himself of his early career. It may even mark her departure for her ill-fated final voyage to India.

The interesting collection of buildings shown on the cliffs are those at Sandgate built by Lord Holland, circa 1762-1768. Holland's intention was to create an English version of Cicero's Formian villa at Baiae. The central building is Holland House, of which a fragment remains. The others represent assorted follies, in flint, which include stables, an inn and the Arx Ruohim, which purported to be a tower built by King Vortigem.
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