Danish(?) School, 19th century
THE PROPERTY OF A DECEASED'S ESTATE (Lots 57-61)
Danish(?) School, 19th century

Tsunami in the West Indies, possibly off the town of Frederickstadt in St Croix, 1867

Details
Danish(?) School, 19th century
Tsunami in the West Indies, possibly off the town of Frederickstadt in St Croix, 1867
oil on canvas
24 x 34in. (61 x 86.4cm.)

Brought to you by

Nicholas Lambourn
Nicholas Lambourn

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

The 19th century bore witness to a large number of natural disasters in the West Indies. Particularly devastating among these was the 7.5 magnitude earthquake of 18 November 1867 which occurred in the Anegada Trough between St Croix and the rest of the Danish West Indies (today the U.S. Virgin Islands). The earthquake triggered a colossal tsunami, the waves of which were recorded across the eastern Caribbean region, possibly reaching the northern coast of South America. Its most severe destruction was caused on the islands of St Croix and St Thomas.

This painting possibly depicts the town of Frederickstadt, on the west coast of St Croix, in the moments after the tsunami struck its shores. According to eyewitness accounts, the waves were as high as 7.6 metres and caused severe damage along the waterfront, destroying twenty houses, killing five people, and injuring several more. A contemporary account from U.S. naval officer, Louis van Housel, paints a vivid picture of the event: ‘… Nothing unusual attracted our attention until three o’clock in the afternoon of the 18th of November, when our vessel began to quiver and rock as if a mighty giant had laid hold of her and was trying to loosen every timber in her frame… I looked toward Frederickstadt and saw a dusty hazy atmosphere over the town. I could see men, women and children, running hither and thither, and could catch faint cries of distress. Noticing that a part of the stone tower of the English Church had fallen, I surmised great damage had been done the dwellings, and was expecting to hear our boats called away to render assistance to the inhabitants.’ (‘An Earthquake Experience’, Scribner’s Monthly, New York 1878).

More from Topographical Pictures with Australian Art

View All
View All