One of three 19th Century ship portraits to have surfaced in the modern era by the artist J.A. Moutte, this working scene of the Swedish Ship BENGAL is interesting on several levels. Inscribed with the Captain’s identity, A. Osc. Carlson, and emblazoned with Swedish Merchant Ensign and International Code Flags proclaiming her identity, the ship is a sharp lined, full bodied wooden hull with a large expanse of sail canvas.
Moutte is listed as the principle ship owner with a French firm based in Marseilles that carried his name from 1855-1880. The company owned five ships, all three masters. The first was JOHANN FRIEDERICH, built in 1855 and listed in the German registry. LOUIS MOUTTE was built and registered as a French merchant ship in 1868.
BENGAL, while a wildly popular name in the records of maritime activities, is an as yet unrecognized for a 1872 listing of the Swedish Barque. Buried somewhere in Swedish archives will be her builders history and ports of call, undoubtedly in service to Moutte & Co. directly. This fine watercolor portrait is a first step toward rediscovering its importance.
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