Lot 178: Stephen Dadd Skillet (British, 1817-1866), "R & H Green Blackwall Frigate Nile Off Deal" circa 1850

Keno Auctions

September 24, 2011
Stamford, CT, US

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Description: Stephen Dadd Skillet (British, 1817-1866)
Oil on canvas
32 x 48 1/8 in.

Literature: Brewington, Marion and Dorothy E.R., Marine Paintings and Drawings in the Peabody Museum (1981), preceding p. 341, no. 1319, illus. full page in color (Hurricane painted in 1855 for a similar example of a ship portrait by Skillet); The iron steamers Meteor and Prince of Wales leaving Brunswick Wharf, Blackwall, S.D. Skillett (artist & publisher), R.K. Thomas (engraver), Day & Haghe (engravers), 1844, National Maritime Museum, London, England, Green Blackwall collection (for contemporary example of artist's work on the lower Thames in London)

Other Notes: S. D. Skillet worked along the lower Thames from his residence in Limehouse. He also executed views on the South Coast and shores of Scotland and Wales. One of his ship portraits was of the Chinese junk Keying which was navigated to England in 1849. Portrait of sailing ship Lord Elgin (built 1847 for Liverpool owners) is in the collection of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Trade labels on the stretcher of unsigned paintings read 'S.D. Skillet, Marine and landscape painter, 19 John Street, Crutched Friars, and 11 Jamaica Terrace, Commercial Road, Limehouse.' Between 1845 and 1856 Skillet exhibited 9 times at the Royal Academy, 4 times at the British Institution, 3 times at Suffolk Street Galleries, and at 3 times at other venues.

Nile homeward bound from India is flying the house flag of Green's Blackwall line (R. & H. Green & Co. Ltd). A rectangular white flag with a blue square in the center and a red cross overall. This design was introduced in 1843 when the Blackwall shipbuilding and ship owning firm of Wigram & Green split in two. While Green's from that point put the red cross over the blue square, Wigram's kept the old joint house flag (from 1824), which had the blue square over the cross, and from 1896 that version became the house flag of their successors, the Federal Steam Navigation Co.

The Green and Wigram families were in partnership from 1805 as shipbuilders and later owners, based at Blackwall on the Thames. The firm had an early history of building East Indiamen and after 1837 the new Green design became known as Blackwall frigates. Nile is such a vessel. In 1843, the partnership was dissolved and the shipyard physically divided. The Green offshoot became known as R. & H. Green under this house flag. In response to the Australian gold rush Green's extended their routes from India to Australia. By this time they were also building clippers. The last of their fleet, Carlisle Castle, was sold by 1890.
George Green became a partner in the Blackwall shipbuilding yard, London, in 1797. It was the largest private shipyard in the world. In the 19th century the Greens ran ships to India and Australia, including their famous 'Blackwall frigates'. They also built and operated steam vessels. From 1902 the the Blackwall yard turned to ship repairing as part of Green & Silley Weir, ship repairers. Green & Silley Weir was incorporated into River Thames Ship Repairers in 1977. The firm closed in 1980 after nearly 200 hundred years in business.
Condition Report: wax lined; two areas of inpaint in the sky; small area of inpaint between the sails; come fine line work in the hills; some inpaint in the small boat

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