Housed in its original Chinese chippendale frame, this exceptionally luminous work features the ship SAMUEL RUSSELL, a ship captained by a great of the China Trade - N.B. Palmer. Palmer also designed the SAMUEL RUSSELL, one of many ships where he used his knowledge gained as a captain of Atlantic packets and China Clippers to make design improvements.
The work is larger than most paintings of the China Trade, and the fine nature of the portrait as well as technical details show that this was likely commissioned by N.B. Palmer during a voyage. The painting has unique details in the ship's sail and rigging which would have required the knowledge of the Ship's Master to communicate to the artist.
"Captain Nat,” began his career at sea at the age of fourteen aboard a blockade runner in the War of 1812. and would go on to a long and storied career as both a Ship's Captain and designer of not just merchant vessels but also yachts of the New York Yacht Club. He is also credited with being the first American man to sight Antarctica. Many ships have been named in his honor from his own lifetime to today.
The ship SAMUEL RUSSELL was named after a senior member of the American company Russell and Co., operating in China and at one time having a partnership with shipping firm A.A. Low & Brother. On her maiden voyage she sailed from New York on September 14th, 1847 under Palmer's command. Besides designing the ship, Palmer had also supervised her construction. The painting contrasts the unique features of the RUSSELL in comparison to the ships in the background: she is is flying four headsails, not three, all her square sails, full studding sails and even an unusual extension to her mizzen sail. The Captain must have wanted to show off the vessel in all her finery as it was captured for posterity. This is a great historical record of the ship as well as a very fine work of art.
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