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"Sunset - Far Pacific", clipper ship "South Australian" | Henry Scott

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Signed lower left "Henry Scott", executed in oil on canvas; titled verso on frame; Christies labels retained verso
Item # 104QJT21D 

A vivid work that is immediate and dramatic, the 19th century clipper "South Australian" makes her way through brisk waters with the invisible winds straining her sails while the long cast of sunlight paints a rich hue of burnt yellows, oranges and pinks across the clouds and sails during the final golden hours of the day. Two figures are observed in the helm watching over the waters while in the distance a second clipper is visible through the dense atmosphere hanging over the distant waters. Typical of Scott, the breeze can almost be felt and the swells of the water are so near, the motion helped along by his heavy impasto with intricate brushwork and complex layers of pigments.

Note, we may have available in the gallery a fine pair to this painting of Henry Scott's "Sunrise - North Atlantic" depicting the black ball clipper "Harvest Queen" of equal size and in a matched frame. Contact the gallery or review our current stock for availability.

Renowned for his maritime scenes and coastal subjects, Henry Scott's paintings are often compared favorably with those of Montague Dawson. He exhibited with the Royal Society of Marine Artists from 1950 through 1966 and centered his career around painting well-known shipping portraits as a specialty. He further exhibited at the Royal Exchange in London, the Guildhall in London and The Royal Academy. He was made an honorary life member of the International Association of Master Mariners, known as the "Cape Horners".

Many of his paintings were completed as commissions for wealthy ship owners and his uncanny ability to capture movement, an atmospheric romance, dramatic billowing of winds and diffusion of sea-spray as well as his brilliant palette won him a great number of patrons. One such commission was his "Morning Cloud" in 1970, a vessel owned by then Prime Minister Edward Heath.

Owned by the famous merchant house of Devitt & Moore of London, the beautiful composite clipper ‘South Australian’ was built for them in Pile’s yard at Sunderland in 1868. Registered at 1,078 tons gross (1,040 net), she measured 201 feet in length with a 36 foot beam. Intended for the company’s successful Adelaide passenger trade, she was commanded from new by Captain David Bruce, an old ‘sea dog’ in the truest sense. A weather-beaten, grey-whiskered Scot with a game leg crushed by a runaway cask in heavy weather, he habitually wore a straw hat and puggaree, and was widely regarded as the most colourful character on the Adelaide run. His three sons all served their time under him and each of them rose to command the ‘South Australian’ later in her life. After a very successful career in which she achieved the reputation of being “a very fine sea boat with very comfortable accommodation….. for passengers”, she became one of the so-called ‘wool clippers’ in the early 1880s, her best recorded passage home being Melbourne to London in the winter of 1883-4 in 98 days. Finally sold to Messrs. Woodside & Workman of Belfast in 1887, she was sunk after a collision with an unidentified vessel in a Force 9 gale off Lundy Island on 14th February 1889 whilst on passage from Cardiff to Rosario (Argentina) loaded with railway track. ("South Australian" biography source: Bonhams)


  • Christies, New York, 08 March 2000, Sale 8347, Lot 274, achieved $ 6900 USD

Measurements: 14" H x 20" W [canvas]; 18 1/4" H x 24 1/2" W x 1 11/16" D [frame]

Condition Report:
Contemporary giltwood frame with minor edge wear; exceptional condition; surface is bright and clean; under UV examination, no apparent restoration or touchups.