Fine art, Oil paintings, Maritime Art Greenwich

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Prison hulks in Portsmouth Harbour

Fine art

Object connections:

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

Object details:

Object ID BHC1924
Description A row of prison hulks in Portsmouth Harbour is shown on the left of the picture. These hulks were ships which were no longer seaworthy and commonly had their masts reduced or removed. They were introduced in the early 1770s, when an attempt was made to alleviate the pressure on prisons and they served as a cheap alternative to building more prisons on land. They were first used on the Thames, but Portsmouth soon had some moored in Langstone and Portsmouth Harbours, together with a hospital ship. The conditions on board the hulks were unheatlhy and overcrowded, with little or no ventilation since the ports on the landward side were boarded over as a deterrent against escape. The skyline of Portsmouth is visible in the distance to the left, together with a variety of shipping at anchor. A ship in full sail is moving towards the viewer and in the foreground is a row of sandbanks,with several figures shown on the largest bank on the right. This is one of three versions of this subject in the collection. The others are BHC1923 and BHC1925: of these, the former came into the collection in 1955 as by Garneray - a French privateering officer who was held as a prisoner of war in the 'Prothee' hulk for eight years from 1806, but had shore parole from 1812 and did various versions of the subject. He later became very well known in France and, in effect, their first 'Peintre officiel de la Marine' from 1817 although this corps was not formally established until 1830. The other two, including this one, arrived in the 1930s and were previously attributed to 'style of Daniel Turner', a London painter best known for views of Nelson's funeral. BHC1923 and 1925 are very similar: this one is the same subject but a much bluer and calmer treatment. There is at present no reason to think they are not all, in fact, early works by Garneray, whose style varied considerably and was given the alias 'Hoppey Turner' by a British officer who made money by selling his works for him. This may be the origin of the Daniel Turner connection.
Date made circa 1812-14

Artist/Maker Garneray, Ambrose-Louis
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 572 mm x 1168 mm x 72 mm;Painting: 432 mm x 1032 mm
  • Prison hulks in Portsmouth Harbour (BHC1924)
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