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

S by E 1/2 E': the Desertas, south-east of Madeira [Bray album]

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From the Collection


From an album of drawings by Gabriel Bray. No. 34 of 74. (Updated, August 2017) A view of the Desertas (see PAJ1995), south-east of Madeira, as viewed by Bray from the 'Pallas', on a bearing of south by east and a half east. In other words this is a view looking down the almost north-to-south-lying 14-km chain of the Desertas as the 'Pallas' passed between them and Madeira. The dark flat-topped islet in the foreground is Chao, the northernmost; behind rises the foreshortened bulk of Deserta Grande, with the pyramidal peak on the left being Bugio, also foreshortened. The islands only have a history of occasional use by fishermen, with no effectively cultivable ground and only Deserta Grande large enough to capture a poor supply of rainwater. Today they are a restricted area of natural conservation interest, largely for a small population of monk seals breeding on Deserta Grande. This is one of 73 drawings by Bray (plus one signed 'NF 1782') preserved in a 19th-century album that was purchased for the Museum by the Macpherson Fund of the Society for Nautical Research in April 1991. They have now been separately remounted. Bray (1750-1823), was second lieutenant of the 44-gun ‘Pallas’ under Captain the Hon. William Cornwallis (1744-1819) – later a well-known admiral - on two voyages (1774-77) to report on British interests in West Africa, including the slave trade. The dated drawings refer only to the first of these, from December 1774 to September 1775, though a few may be from the second. Others comprise country views, some of Deal, Kent (where Bray may have come from), and others of social-history interest. For further details see PAJ1976.

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© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

From the Watercolour World


Desertas Islands, Portugal