Fascinated by the potential mineral wealth of the newly-discovered Terra Australis (Australia), the Admiralty sent Captain Matthew Flinders to follow elements of Captain James Cook’s map and to explore, particularly, the South Coast of the new continent – between what is now known as Albany and Melbourne. The artist accompanying the voyage in 1801 was the very young William Westall. This particular painting is typical of his developing lyrical style: a superb landscape painter, his particular strengths were his ability to show strange trees and vegetation, such as the snake which is shown in the foreground. The ship at anchor in the bay is HMS Investigator.
A portrait of the wooden paddle steamer ‘The Great Western’. Built by Brunel, she was the first of his three steamships and pioneered the steam deep water passenger trade. She was launched at Patterson & Mercer’s yard in Bristol on 19 July 1837 and sailed to London later that month to be fitted out.
The ‘Great Western’ sailed from Bristol on her maiden voyage on 8 April 1838, arriving at New York on 23 April. She completed 45 Atlantic voyages to New York for her original owners, the Great Western Steamship Company, before being sold to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company for its service between Britain and the West Indies. The sale was forced in order to raise funds to salvage the company’s other ship, the ‘Great Britain’ (1843), from Dundrum Bay. Following service to the West Indies, the ‘Great Western’ was employed as a troop transport during the Crimean War. She was broken up at Castle’s Yard on the Thames in August 1856.
The painting is signed ‘J Walter’, and is a smaller version of a painting in the Bristol City Art Gallery and Museum.
While we’re pondering this £800m piece of sheer bloody awesomeness, let’s have a look at the old 64-gun “Eggs and Bacon” that fought at Trafalgar. She was launched on 10th April 1781 at a cost of £38,303 15s 4d.