'From a back window in Panama, March 10th 1850'

No. 34 in Fanshawe's Pacific album, 1849 - 52. Captioned by the artist on the album page below the image, as title. Having returned to Valparaiso from Samoa at Christmas 1849, Fanshawe and the 'Daphne' sailed for Callao, Peru, on 25 January 1850, expecting to remain there up to three months. On arrival on 11 February, however, he found orders to proceed immediately to Panama, which he reached on 7 March. He wrote to his brother-in-law, the politician Edward Cardwell, on 21st: 'It is a pretty little walled town on a small peninsula, and, as it is not subject to earthquakes, the original buildings have been constructed with a view to durability and are still standing. Many are churches and convents, which are now ruinous or falling into decay; among them is the cathedral, which is said to be the oldest in these parts' (Fanshawe [1904] p.254). However, he found the ruffianly side-effects of the California gold-rush in full swing at Panama, with the place full of people - mainly Americans - trying to get there by sea, and he was eventually drawn into official local attempts to keep order. 'I suppose all this will find its level here sometime hence', he wrote to his mother on 25th, 'and that Panama will become a very important and populous place. It is a very picturesque place, with plenty of ruined churches, ruined convents, and decaying fortifications, with some cocoanut trees and other trees interspersed' (p.257). This drawing looks over houses towards the bell towers on the facade of 17th-18th century cathedral, which faces roughly south-west towards the Pacific. The viewpoint is therefore from the south or south-east with the sun setting to the left. The generously exposed shoulder of the girl by the fence adds a romantic charge to the peaceful evening view.

Fanshawe preserved four views of Panama, all made in March 1850 though only this one is specifically dated: the others are PAI4643-PAI4644 and PAI4646.

Object Details

ID: PAI4641
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Fanshawe, Edward Gennys
Places: Panama
Date made: 10 Mar 1850
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 227 x 325 mm
Parts: Album of watercolours of Madeira, Brazil, the Falkland and Pacific Islands, Chile, Panama, Mexico, Vancouver, and California (Album)

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