Since the arrival of the Romans in about A. D. 125, Dover has been the English gateway to and from the Continent. It had always been at the hub of much shipping activity. This type of scenes were a popular subject for marine artists working in Britain. By 1836, the year in which this picture was painted, paddle boats had become a familiar sight along the coasts and rivers of Britain. Powered by steam, they had been developed from the first experimental steam-powered vessel in England which was built by the Earl of Stanhope in 1794. Unlike the sailing ships also seen in this picture, paddle boats were not dependent on winds for mobility. However, as can be seen in this painting, the paddle boat also carried sails in case of engine failure or in order to gain extra power if there were favourable winds.
T. Wright, about whom almost nothing is known, seems to have been a minor painter of marine subjects. In 1836, the same year in which this picture was painted, he also produced a painting of a ship caught in a storm off the cliffs of Dover.
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