Shipping off Dover

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: Oman
    City: Muscat
    Place: British Embassy

    The anchor is being lowered on 50-gun warship, just off the coast of Dover. This two-decker warship was the smallest used by the Navy in the mid-18th century. The design was later replaced by the frigate, which had a single continuous gun deck. To the left of the warship is a fishing boat and several men in a rowing boat, apparently heading for the larger ship. In the distance a view of the coast of Dover and Dover Castle can be seen above the familiar white cliffs.

    The view of Dover in the background of this work is almost identical to that seen in a painting titled ‘A Merchantman and a Royal Yacht Beating to Windward off Dover’, signed by Charles Brooking (1723-1759) and in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. The work of Francis Swaine was undoubtedly influenced by Brooking and this painting is thought to be an example of Swaine copying a Brooking painting. However, paintings by the two artists are also sometimes confused.

  • About the artist
    Little is known of the early life Francis Swaine, marine painter. In 1735, his name appeared as a messenger in a list of clerks and officers employed by the Treasurers and Commissioners of His Majesty's Navy. Swaine's work was strongly influenced by Peter Monamy, Charles Brooking and the earlier paintings of Willem van de Velde the younger. Most of Swaine’s output was small scale shipping subjects. He exhibited his work at the Free Society of Arts from 1761 until the end of his life and at the Incorporated Society of Artists exhibitions from 1762. For much of his life, Swaine lived near St. James’s Park, Westminster. He moved to Chelsea shortly before his death in 1782.
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  • Details
    Title
    Shipping off Dover
    Date
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 70.00 cm, width: 127.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Montagu Bernard, November 1964
    GAC number
    6759