The East Indiaman 'Princess Royal'

The artist John Cleveley the Elder adopted a conventional formula for this ship portrait showing the vessel both from its starboard side and its stern off the English coast and a fortified harbour town.

An alternative title for this painting is 'The East Indiaman Princess Royal shown in two positions off Sheerness', and it is dated to 1770. The 499-ton ‘Princess Royal’ undertook two voyages for the East India Company both of which visited China. The first took place between 1770–71, the second between 1772–74. The owner of the vessel was Alexander Hume while the captain on both voyages was Robert Ker. Charles Hardy indicates that a vessel with the same name, captain and owner undertook two further voyages between 1777 and 1781, however the tonnage of that vessel was recorded as 864 tons.

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, 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: BHC3564
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Cleveley, John
Vessels: Princess Royal 1769
Date made: 1770
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Painting: 750 x 1115 mm; Frame: 938 x 1281 x 103 mm

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