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Oil painting - Shipping off Dover, with town and castle in the distance
  • Shipping off Dover, with town and castle in the distance
    Swaine, Francis
  • Enlarge image

Shipping off Dover, with town and castle in the distance

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    mid 18th century-late 18th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Swaine, Francis (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:

    1-1886

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This painting depicts an English man-of-war coming to anchor in Dover harbour against the backdrop of Dover cliffs and castle. Dover held a position of key importance in defending Britain against invasion, with its combined force of fleet and imposing castle. Shipping off Dover reflects this role and perhaps alludes to the nation’s increasing pre-occupation with the threat of invasion. Swaine was a marine painter and draughtsman of considerable repute who exhibited with the Incorporated Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists from 1762 until his death in 1782.

Physical description

Sky with much cumulous cloud casting shadows across the sea in the foreground and middle distance. On the right, an English man-of-war, port-bow view, coming to anchor. On the left, a Dutch hoy or Kaag, stern-starboard view, with four men on deck. In the middle distance, another English man-of-war, broadside view. At least three smaller vessels in the distance. The town of Dover and its castle are visible on the cliff top.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (painted)

Date

mid 18th century-late 18th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Swaine, Francis (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'Francis Swaine'
Signed by the artist

Dimensions

Height: 19.5 in estimate, Width: 24.5 in estimate, Height: 48.75 cm, Width: 61.25 cm

Object history note

Received from Benjamin Jarvis in 1886

Historical context note

This is one of several maritime scenes set against the backdrop of Dover harbour painted by Swaine (see also Shipping off Dover, Government Art Collection, GAC 6759). It depicts an English man-of-war coming to anchor, with the cliffs of Dover, surmounted by its imposing Norman castle, in the background.

Dover was one of the original Cinque Ports and was obliged to maintain and provide ships in case of Crown need. Its medieval castle, the largest in England, enhanced the town’s defensive capability in times of war and underwent a major refurbishment in the mid-18th century to equip it for modern warfare. This painting, dated to around 1770, reflects Dover’s historic and important role as a key part of Britain’s defence, with its combined power of castle and fleet. It perhaps also reflects Britain’s increasing sense of national insecurity as the 18th century, punctuated with threats of invasion, wore on.

Swaine was a highly successful marine painter and draughtsman. His style was influenced by Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707) and his contemporary, Peter Monamy (1681-1749), with whom his work is sometimes confused. He was awarded premiums by the Society of Arts and exhibited with the Incorporated Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists from 1762 until his death in 1782.

Descriptive line

Oil Painting, 'Shipping off Dover, with Town and Castle in the Distance', Francis Swaine, mid 18th century-late 18th century

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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