© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London | Licence: CC BY-NC-ND
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London | Licence: CC BY-NC-ND

HMS 'Beagle' off Fort Macquarie, Sydney Harbour

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From the Collection


Described by former NMM curator James Taylor (in ‘The Voyage of the Beagle…’ (Conway, 2008), p.26) as:

… the best-known watercolour image of the survey ship, although it relates to her third and final expedition in 1837-43. It was created by Owen Stanley (1811-50), captain of HMS ‘Britomart’, a sister-ship of the ‘Beagle’, who was also an artist of promising ability and occasionally produced accomplished work. Stanley’s picture featuring the ‘Beagle’ was completed when ‘Britomart’ came into contact with ‘Beagle’ in Australian waters. It is loosely constructed and to a small scale (the size of a large postcard). It is full of atmosphere and charm… However, his painting technique makes it difficult to determine if this really is a technically accurate portrayal of the ‘Beagle’.”Although described by J Lort Stokes, the commander of the expedition, as “belonging to that much abused class the 10-gun brigs”, the ‘Beagle’ is shown here barque rigged (as in other pictures by those who knew her, e.g. those by Lieut. Graham Gore in Lort Stokes’s own book “Discoveries in Australia”, p.187 & 225 of vol. II); this is because the mizzen was regarded as a temporary sail. She was built as a brig (not, initially, a brig-sloop) of the ‘Cherokee’ / ‘Rolla’ class, and therefore classed as such despite being later given a rather different rig.Medium includes ink. Signed by artist. Inscribed on back “HMS ‘Beagle’ Sydney April 10 1841”.

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© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

From the Watercolour World


Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia