Painted during his best period, William Clark’s large format portrait of the EAST INDIAMAN BOMBAY shows her departing the Scottish coast on her maiden trading run. Her owner, J. Kerr of Greenock, held high expectations for his new vessel when he most likely commissioned this baptismal portrait directly from Clark.
Build in 1859 for Kerr by Archibald Macmillian & Son of Dumbarton, Bombay measured 173’3” in length, 34’3” of beam and 21’5” of depth; weighing 890 net tons. Records have her sailing in trade to India for more than six years, undoubtably partaking of further voyages in the China Trade, where Indian-grown cotton and illicit opium poppies were often sold in the 1860s. Kerr is listed as later doing business in Australia, although it is unclear at this time if BOMBAY sailed that deep into the southern hemisphere.
This excellent ship portrait is set in an active environment. A medium clipper, a brig, a cutter yacht and other sails on the horizon are present. Onboard BOMBAY, the captain and helmsman are identifiable amongst the attentive crew, many of which are keeping a watchful eye forward. A rosy warmth is suggested on the full foremast sails, the force behind which cuts the keel deep in the water of the channel, raking her back slightly. She would be away from her home port of Greenock for the better part of a year.
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