Lt. Warre’s Huangpu River (Pt. 2)

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As promised here are the first two panels of Lt. John Frederick Warre’s 1847-1847 view along the Huangpu River.

The first image in the series places the viewer with Shanghai at his back looking down the Huangpu River towards “Woosung” (Wusong is now a district within Shanghai).  Warre describes a low arched bridge at the extreme left (he uses the word “brullah” which must be a phonetic spelling because I can’t figure out exactly what he is referring to). He states that the Chinese built most bridges like this one and that they have a single railing. On the left bank of the river are bamboos and “fruit & large umbrageous trees” (“umbrageous” means big trees that provide shade– I learn something new every day!).   Read more

Lt. Warre’s Huangpu River (Part 1)

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The Attack & Capture of Sidon, September 27, 1840

Welcome to the first of a multi part series on a single object in our collection! I have been working on an exhibition called Sailor Made which opens in January. While searching for objects I decided to look at a panoramic watercolor of a scene on the Huangpu River, Shanghai, China painted by Lt. John Frederick Warre of Britain’s Royal Navy in 1846 and 1847 (he arrived in China sometime in 1846 and died in Hong Kong in July 1847 after a severe illness). The piece is quite long, about 80” in length, and is made up of eight individual panels. I always knew the piece was cool I just didn’t realize its level of coolness until now!

After joining the Royal Navy on May 13, 1829 John Frederick Warre’s career took him all over the world. While he passed his examination for lieutenant in 1836 he wasn’t promoted until February 10, 1841 which makes it difficult to track his early naval assignments (the Navy List only identifies officers), but I was able to find him in 1840 listed as a mate in the HMS Princess Charlotte (104-guns) in the Mediterranean. Warre was promoted out of the ship in March 1841 which means he was on board the Princess Charlotte in the fall of 1840 when Britain and Austria took action against Egypt and France in an effort to preserve the Ottoman Empire. The actions that occurred at Sidon, Beirut and Acre from September to November 1840 were the last major actions by the Royal Navy in which sailing wooden ships-of-the-line played the leading role. In this particular battle they were, however, aided by several small steamships.   Read more

Antoine Melling watercolors

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Vue Générale du port de Constantinople Prise des hauters d’Eyoub (plate 14)

Yesterday I had a behind the scenes tour with a few Daily Press (our local newspaper) employees and I pulled one of my favorite watercolors (alright, alright, that’s a bit of a stretch–if I was hard pressed to pick just one piece I’d have trouble, but it is certainly at the top of the list!).  I pulled the image because I wanted to show the international aspect of our collection and this piece is pretty spectacular.

The image, titled “Vue Generale du Port de Constantinople prise des Hauteurs d’Eyoub,” is a panoramic view of Istanbul (at that time called Constantinople) and the Golden Horn drawn from the heights of the Eyüp neighborhood at the northeast corner of the city. The image shows the whole harbor and the east side of the city and the Galata neighborhood with its Galata Tower which is the northernmost observation point of the old city walls. Visible in the image are many recognizable buildings including the Topkapi palace, the Aya Sofia mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Osman Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Bayezid II Mosque, Prophet Mohammed’s Mosque, Sultan Selim Mosque, Tekfur Palace, and the Eyüp Sultan Mosque.   Read more

This one is for all of you fans of oddball sports!

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While researching George Vancouver I ran across a very interesting watercolor in the collection that obviously documents a very specific event but the computer didn’t contain any information on what it might be. Whenever that happens I usually hit the Internet because 9 times out of 10 someone out there has already written or researched the event and there’s no point reinventing the wheel if I don’t have to!

The watercolor shows the HMS Modeste frozen in the Columbia River on January 26, 1847. There are people on the ice all around the ship, some are just walking and others look like they are fencing, skating or just having fun, but there is one particular group of individuals that seems to be doing something pretty specific—something important enough that the artist felt the need to document the event and the date it occurred.   Read more

Anniversary of the 1775 Battle of Hampton

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Today marks the anniversary of the Battle of Hampton, the first battle of the Revolutionary War to occur south of Massachusetts. The battle occurred thanks to a hurricane on September 2, 1775 which led to a squabble between Captain Matthew Squire of the HMS Otter and the residents of Hampton.

As the story goes the HMS Otter’s tender, named Liberty, was driven aground during the hurricane and the next day local inhabitants boarded the vessel, removed the guns, stores and parts of the vessel and then burned it. Apparently sailors from the Otter had been making a nuisance of themselves and this was how the residents of made their displeasure known.   Read more