Beneath a dark sky, several boats are struggling on the rough seas of the English Channel. In the distance a view of the coast of Dover and Dover Castle can be seen above the famous white cliffs. While a red ensign flies from the stern of one of the large ships, a French flag flies from the smaller vessel.
In 2008, Christie’s auction house in London sold a set of four marine paintings by Frederick Calvert, each depicting a port in the English Channel. The scenes showed Folkestone, Ramsgate, Cowes and Dover. Strangely it is the painting of Ramsgate, rather than Dover, which relates to this work as it includes two virtually identical vessels viewed from the same angles and in a similarly rough sea.
Frederick Calvert, painter, watercolourist and engraver of topographical and marine views, was from Cork in Ireland. He first exhibited at both the Dublin Society of Artists and the Hibernian Society in 1815. In 1827 he moved to London, where he exhibited views of Dover Castle and Broughton Castle from a Pall Mall address and he later exhibited works at the Society of British Artists in Suffolk Street. In 1830, Calvert published ‘Picturesque Views in Staffordshire and Shropshire’ and also worked as an illustrator for the ‘Archaeological Journal’. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum hold watercolours by him and oil paintings by him are in the National Maritime Museum and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
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