To the Survivors and Relations of the Unfortunate Persons who perished in the Halsewell East Indiaman Captain Pierce, on the 6 January 1786, ....

A view of the Halsewell sinking as she strikes the rocks, with seamen cast on to the rocky shore on the left. The Halsewell is shown in starboard-quarter view, and being swept over by the waves. The men on the rocks and shore look back in horror at the wreck, some climbing up further with the aid of other seamen.

The wreck of the merchant ship Halsewell was an event that shocked the country. On 1 January 1786, she began her return to London from Madras, India, carrying a company of more than 240 crew and passengers. For four days, the ship was caught in a violent storm, even springing a leak. Eventually, on 6 January, she struck some rocks near Seacombe, on the island of Purbeck. Overall, only 74 people survived, most of whom were rescued from the cliffs. Captain Pierce perished with the ship, alongside his two daughters, nieces and nephew.

Inscribed: ‘To the Survivors and Relations of the Unfortunate Persons who perished in the Halsewell East Indiaman, Captain Pierce on the 6th January 1786. This Plate is inscribed with greatest Respect by their humble Servant, S. W. Fores.’

The suggested attribution to Rowlandson is reinforced by the association with Fores. In the 1780s when Rowlandson was becoming well known, much of his work was for Fores (John Hayes ‘Rowlandson Watercolours and drawings’, p. 18, Phaidon).

Object Details

ID: PAH0503
Collection: Fine art
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Rowlandson, Thomas; Rawlinson Mercier, P. S. W. Fores, S.W. Fores
Places: Unlinked place
Vessels: Halsewell (1778)
Date made: 18 Apr 1786
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 255 x 426 mm; Mount: 481 mm x 633 mm

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