Two views of an East Indiaman of the time of King William III

A portrait of a powerfully armed East India Company vessel, identifiable by the striped ensign, jack and pendants. A further mark of identification is the cypher positioned above the taffrail. The ship is shown from two positions, on the left it is in port-broadside view, with the bow slightly turned towards the viewer,. On the right it is viewed from astern, showing the ornately carved figures of the transom. Crew can be seen in the rigging in the view to the right, busy with the sails or climbing the shrouds. On the left the anchor is visible and one figure can be seen on the deck. The artist has incoprorated several sea beasts in the foreground, probably dolphins, a typical motif of Dutch 17th-century artists. The vessel mounts over sixty guns, which would however have been smaller than those in a man-of-war of equivalent size. The stepped deck aft is a feature of merchantmen, to give greater headroom in the cabins. The gunports located in the stern galleries above the transom are a very unusual feature, since the galleries were not normally sufficiently strongly built to withstand the recoil of guns.

The East India Company had five vessels of 750 tons or more during the reign of William III with the most likely identification of the vessel shown possibly the 'Charles the Second',. Built at Deptford in 1683 this 775-ton ship was commanded by Sir Thomas Grantham and managed four voyages to the East before the end of its service in 1695. Another possible identification is that of the 'King William', 800 tons, which was in the service of the Company between 1690 and 1699. Other possible candidates are the 'Tavistock', '750 tons, and the 'Bedford', 800 tons, built in 1696 and 1697 respectively. Finally the 775- ton 'Modena', is a less likely identification, as this vessel was lost in a hurricane in 1691.

Sailmaker was born in Scheveningen in 1633 and emigrated to England when young. He was an early marine painter working in England prior to 1710, although he had not benefited from the typical marine artist's apprenticeship. He was, however, among the artistic followers of the van de Veldes, who left Holland for England in 1672 and established a flourishing school of marine painting in London.

Object Details

ID: BHC1676
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - Traders Gallery
Creator: Sailmaker, Isaac
Date made: circa 1685
Exhibition: Traders: The East India Company and Asia
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 1265 x 1197 mm; Frame: 1393 mm x 1328 mm x 70 mm

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