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The opium clipper Sylph salvaged by the sloop Clive, 1835

BHC3649
Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
ExhibitionsTraders: The East India Company and Asia
User collections The Company in crisis by NMMExhibitions
Gallery locationTraders Gallery (Floor plans)
VesselsClive 1824, Sylph 1831

Object details:

Object ID BHC3649
Description This ship was designed by Sir Robert Seppings, the surveyor of the Royal Navy and built at Calcutta in 1831 for the Parsee merchant Rustomjee Cowasjee who wanted a ship that could cope with monsoons. She had a complement of 304 men and was one of the fastest early opium clippers. This was very popular with Jardine Matheson who either owned or rented the ship from Cowasjee. The vessel carried opium to London in 1832. While sailing from Calcutta to China in 1835 with a full cargo of 995 chests of opium she was stranded on a shoal in the Malay Peninsula. The hull was damaged and the opium soaked but the ship and all but two of the chests were saved through the fortunate appearance of the East India Company’s sloop ‘Clive’. Refloated and later rebuilt in Singapore, the ‘Sylph’ was chased by Chinese junks in 1841 and came close to being captured. It is thought that she was eventually captured and burnt by pirates who operated from the island of Hainan. The painting shows the ‘Sylph’ in the centre. The sloop on the right is coming to rescue the ship and there is a smaller craft in the foreground on the far right. The ships are struggling in the fierce weather. The painting shows the Malay coast in the distance as deeply vegetated with palm trees.
Date made After 1835

Artist/Maker Huggins, William John
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements Painting: 305 mm x 458 mm; Frame: 436 mm x 585 mm x 86 mm
Parts
  • The opium clipper Sylph salvaged by the sloop Clive, 1835 (BHC3649)
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