Fine art, Oil paintings, Maritime Art Greenwich

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Eddystone Lighthouse

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings, Maritime Art Greenwich
ExhibitionsGuiding Lights
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID BHC1796
Description A depiction of John Rudyerd's wooden lighthouse of 1708. It replaced Henry Winstanley's construction, built between 1696 and 1699 and destroyed in the Great Storm of 1703, when Winstanley and others died in its collapse. Rudyerd's replacement became the first successful offshore-rock lighthouse in the world until it was destroyed in 1755 by a fire that started in the lantern. It was then superseded by Smeaton's tower, of which the upper wooden part also burnt in 1770. This was in turn replaced by the stone portion later re-erected on Plymouth Hoe after the completion, beside it, of Douglass's new tower in 1882. There are four men-of-war, identified by Colonel John Lovett in 1708 as the 'Roebuck', 42 guns, on the left, together with the 'Charles Galley', 36 guns, the 'Swallow', 32 guns, and the ketch 'Aldborough', 24 guns, on the right. All were ships which attended on the construction of the lighthouse, while those beyond bear the flags of the countries who contributed financially to the project. Plymouth Harbour is visible in the background. The picture was one of the four versions commissioned by Lovett in 1708. One was for the Lord High Admiral, Prince George of Denmark, but later disappeared from the Royal Collection at an unknown point. Another was for Trinity House and a third was a different family version to this, at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire (now National Trust). The painting was identified as the work of Sailmaker through an engraving by Hulsbergh, dated 1733, which credits him as the artist. This discovery was a landmark in early marine painting since it served to indicate the signifying features of a Sailmaker painting. The picture itself provides a rare and striking image of an offshore lighthouse, showing the iron bolts set into the rock to hold down the structure. The circular staircase leading up from the rock to the entrance is also clearly shown. The lantern's light was supplied by 24 candles. A figure is shown on the balcony of the lantern, looking out towards the shipping with a telescope. In the foreground on the right several small craft laden with men and supplies are preparing to land near the lighthouse. Outcrops of rock have been indicated on the right and there is a distorted sense of perspective. Sailmaker was born in Scheveningen in 1633 and emigrated to England when young. He was an early marine painter working in England prior to 1710, although he had not benefited from the typical marine artist's apprenticeship. He was, however, among the artistic followers of the van de Veldes, who left Holland for England in 1672 and established a flourishing school of marine painting in London.
Date made circa 1708

Artist/Maker Sailmaker, Isaac
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Purchased with the assistance of the Society for Nautical Research Macpherson Fund, the Art Fund and the Friends of the National Maritime Museum
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 1245 mm x 1003 mm; Frame: 1432 mm x 1182 mm x 86 mm; Weight: 33 kg
  • Eddystone Lighthouse (BHC1796)
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