The Opening of Sheerness Docks, 5 September 1823
Coloured aquatintpublished 24 October 1828
- About the work
About the artist
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.
Edward Duncan, a marine and landscape painter in watercolour and engraver, was the son of an artist and engraver, also named Edward. He began his career in the studio of Robert Havell senior and later set up business on his own, engraving sporting and shipping subjects, particularly by the William John Huggins. He later married Huggins’s daughter, Berthia. He became a member of the Royal Institution in 1833, serving as Vice-President and Treasurer, but resigned in 1847. Two years later he became a member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. Between 1843 and 1851, he worked as an illustrator for the ‘Illustrated London News’. Duncan lived in north London throughout his life. He died at his home near Haverstock Hill, aged 78.