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A Brig Leaving Dover

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID BHC1136
Description This painting shows a view of Dover from the sea with a brig sailing out towards the viewer. A fishing boat is making its way back in the opposite direction towards the harbour across the animated waves. 'DR' on the stern indicates it is a Dover boat in accordance with an Act of 1813 (53 Geo. III) amending one of the previous year and specifying that Dover, Deal, Ramsgate and Margate boats be licensed and show their licence numbers on hulls and sails, respectively preceded by the letters DR, D, R and M in black. A steamer, identified on the paddle-box as the 'Royal William' - and presumably named for William IV who came to the throne in 1830 - is following the brig out of harbour. Behind its funnel, and just to the right are a pair of grey towers which are the twin Compass and Clock Towers built on the cross wall of the tidal harbour in 1830. They were demolished in May 1871. The fortification on the cliff to the right is the Drop Redoubt on the town's Western Heights, with the blocks of the Grand Shaft Barracks below it and connected by a long stair. The composition is full of narrative detail and has long been identified as by George Chambers senior, though its painterly quality and drawing is not his best standard and has prompted doubts. However, it does have a now largely erased inscription/ signature lower left which appears to have been 'G Chambers/ 1830' though the year date is not entirely clear. Chambers was born in Whitby, Yorkshire in 1803. He went to sea, aged ten, with his uncle. Then, after a five-year apprenticeship on a transport brig, he returned to Whitby and worked for a while as a house and ship painter before leaving to set up in London in 1825. There his work proved popular with a nautical clientele and won Chambers his early commissions, although he also worked as a Whitechapel theatre scene-painter. He became fully established after securing the patronage of King William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1831–32. Chambers was a talented draughtsman and watercolourist and an accomplished painter in oils, often working with fluent, colourful bravura. However, the hardships of his early life were probably the cause of his early contraction of tuberculosis, from which he died in 1840, and the uncharacteristically indifferent albeit still lively quality of this painting may be the result of it being done when not at his best in health terms. Some of the details added above are the result of a useful PCF/ Art Detective discussion of the painting in late 2017.
Date made 1830?

Artist/Maker Chambers, George
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 716 x 915 mm; Frame: 855 mm x 1063 mm x 100 mm
  • A Brig Leaving Dover (BHC1136)
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