This work shows the brig 'Barracouta', sailing near Mahé, the largest island of the Seychelles.
In August 1821 naval officer William Mudge (1796-1837) was appointed first lieutenant of the ‘Barracouta’, with Captain Cutfield. Mudge and Cutfield were employed on a survey of the east coast of Africa, under Captain William Fitzwilliam Owen (1774-1857). Owen took charge of the sloop ‘Leven’ and under his command the men carried out a detailed survey, from the boundary of Cape Colony, to Cape Gardafui, depicting some 20 thousand miles of coast in almost 300 charts. Despite several deaths from fever on both ships, the project was considered a success. It also included extensive surveys of the west coast of Africa, carried out as the ships began their return journey. They finally reached Deptford in August 1826.
Little is known of the early life of William John Huggins. By 1812 he was a steward to Captain Thomas Buchanan of the East India Company. He was probably first taught by ship decorator and art teacher Thomas Duncan. Huggins settled in Leadenhall Street, London, close to East India House, the headquarters of the Company, and specialised in shipping and naval subjects. He produced numerous ship portraits for captains and owners of vessels used by the East India Company, collaborating with Edward Duncan, Thomas’s son, on paintings including ‘East Indiamen in the China Seas’ (c.1820-30; National Maritime Museum, Greenwich). The two artists also worked together on some 150 prints. In 1830 Huggins’s was appointed Marine Painter to William IV.
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