A bust figurehead of Old Father Thames from the 46-gun fifth Rate frigate HMS Thames (1823)

A bust figurehead of Old Father Thames from the 46-gun Fifth Rate frigate Thames (1823). The figurehead, with its white painted bearded scowling river god, is the personification of the river. The base of the figure has a carved rope trim around it and the whole stands on an lettered black plinth.

The expressive figurehead has been carved in a High-Baroque style with the statues of Renaissance Rome in mind. The Thames was an important river, being the main trading route into London and the world’s busiest port until the mid-twentieth century. It was also a significant shipbuilding centre with royal dockyards and numerous private firms. In the nineteenth century, before proper sanitation was introduced, cartoonists in magazines like Punch used the figure of Father Thames to highlight the polluted state of the river.

Object Details

ID: FHD0107
Collection: Figureheads
Type: Figurehead
Display location: Display - Maritime London Gallery
Vessels: Thames 1823 (HMS)
Date made: 1823
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 927 mm x 762 mm x 584 mm

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