The functional strength of a British sailing brig speaks to the optimistic tone of the mid-19th century after decades of warfare. The British imperial power had rescinded much its overseas trading monopolies, birthing the era of international competition for trade and markets. Transatlantic crossing, continental ports and the illustrious and well-documented China Trade routes were flourishing at this point in time when Scott painted this portrait.
Scott offers a dramatic and colorful perspective of the ship, the headland of his home in view behind the two positions shown of the same ship. The brig as the workhorse of coastal trade through Great Britain was steadily being replaced by the schooners and brigantines of the isles, as they were likewise displaced by the advance of the powered ships. Still they sailed for decades in the Baltic trade and in the coal-carrying service. Usually under 100-tons, they had no difficulty in proving themselves able on the high-seas, both in crossing the Atlantic and voyaging to the shores of Africa and South America.
Strong movement to the foremost ship with its sails is contrasted with the other depiction showing the brig backwinding the sails and a detachment of sailors setting off in a rowed boat. The ensign displays the united colors of England, Scotland and Ireland, with a red houseflag with the Scottish white cross at the main. An important and accurate period view of maritime Great Britain from the prominent east coast port on the Tyne river.
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