A View of Pigeon Island & Part of St. Lucia, 25 March 1780
Colour aquatintpublished 1783-1786
About the work
Numerous tall ships, small sailing vessels and a rowing boat occupy the water in this marine view of two islands of the West Indies. The small islet, known as Pigeon Island (located just off the northern region of Saint Luci until 1972 when it was artificially joined to the mainland by a man-made causeway), dominates the left of the composition and part of Gros Island Bay on the island of Saint Lucia itself can be seen beyond. At the time the original drawing, on which this print is based, was made by Lieutenant Charles Forrest, Gros Island Bay was the site of a British naval base. This aquatint version was published a few years later between 1783 and 1786.
About the artist
Charles Forrest became a Lieutenant in the 113th Foot Regiment in 1779 and a Lieutenant in the 90th Foot Regiment in 1780. As a junior officer of the 90th Foot Regiment he fought in the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). He was sent to the West Indies and remained in St Lucia from 1780 to 1781. While there he made detailed annotated watercolours of the island’s strategic sites. Twelve of these drawings were engraved and published in London between 1783 and 1786. He may also be the Charles Forrest who retired as Ensign of the Somersetshire Regiment of Fencible Infantry in 1796.
Engraver Francis Chesham exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1777-78, when living on Broad Street, Soho. He worked for several publishers specialising in landscape views and also engraved portraits after Charles Catton the elder for ‘The English Peerage’ (1790); after Robert Dodd for John Boydell’s ‘Admiral Parker's Victory’ (1782) and two engravings after George Robertson's views of the iron works in Coalbrookdale. When Chesham exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1780 he gave his address as ‘Mr Wood’s, Richmond Buildings’. Wood was an attorney in Soho, who specialised in bankrupts. The engraver may also be the Francis Chesham of Pall Mall and Walworth Terrace, described as a ‘Printseller, Dealer and Chapman’, who was bankrupt in 1790.