The ship ‘Mount Stewart Elphinstone’ offshore

(Updated June 2021) A portrait of the ship 'Mount Stewart Elphinstone', shown in starboard-broadside view with the cliffs of the English coastline in the distance. Figures are shown on deck looking towards the coast.

Built of teak in India in 1826, the 'Mount Stewart Elphinstone' had a trading life of more than fifty years. Over several voyages it carried nearly 1,700 convicts to Sydney and Hobart, as well as emigrants to Australia. The ship took between three and five months to make each voyage and in 1849 was described by Sir Lucius O'Brien of County Clare as a ‘deplorable prison-ship’. It was also the ship on which the astronomer John Herschel and his family sailed in 1833 to the Cape of Good Hope, where he carried out a major survey of the southern sky. The painting has been signed and dated by the artist ‘W. Knell 1840’.

Occasionally, the ship is also referred to as 'Mountstuart Elphinstone' (e.g. Lloyd's Register, 1845-46) or 'Mountstewart Elphinstone'. The correct version is certainly that in Lloyd's: Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859) was the Scottish statesman who later became Governor of Bombay, after whom the ship was named - albeit in variable spellings.

Object Details

ID: BHC3504
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Knell, William Adolphus
Vessels: Mount Stewart Elphinstone (1826)
Date made: 1840
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Frame: 583 mm x 736 mm x 70 mm;Painting: 453 mm x 610 mm

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