The 'St Albans' Floated out at Deptford, 1747

The painting shows the 'St Albans', 60 guns man-of-war built at the Royal Dockyard, Deptford in 1747. It is depicted being floated out of her building dock, flying the Admiralty flag, the Royal Standard, Union flag and a red ensign. The building to the left with trees in front of it, and a female figure standing in the doorway wearing an apron, is the master shipwright's house. This was built for the Master Shipwright at Deptford, Joseph Allen, in 1708, together with the dockyard offices built around 1710. The building to the right, with the clock tower and bearing the royal coat of arms on its façade, is the Great Storehouse. Deptford became the headquarters of naval victualling and supply in 1742 which it remained until after the Second World War. To the right a keg is shown being loaded and the artist has included a host of other details and shipping along the quayside, together with a variety of figures specifically positioned to draw attention to shipping and other associated activities. On the far right a ship in the early stages of construction is visible and on the river small craft pass by, including an official barge. The painting has been signed and dated by the artist : J Clevly P:1747'.

John Cleveley came from an English family of painters. He was born and died in Southwark, London and did not become a professional painter until the late 1740s. He lived and worked in part of the Royal Dockyard, in Deptford, near London which he frequently included in his paintings. His work combined depictions of people with topographical accuracy and architectural detail and displayed considerable knowledge of shipbuilding. He was an early exhibiter at the Free Society of Artists in London and two of his three sons, John Cleveley the Younger and his twin brother, Robert Cleveley also became painters after working in Deptford's Royal Dockyard.

Object Details

ID: BHC1046
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Cleveley, John
Places: Deptford
Vessels: St Albans
Date made: 1747
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Caird Fund.
Measurements: Painting: 910 x 1570 mm; Frame: 1167 mm x 1830 mm x 120 mm x 30 kg

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