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Original watercolour of a British fleet of ships among icebergs
circa 1793- 1797 - Watercolour, oval shape, 132 x 195 mm., tipped on to card, in gilt frame. A finely executed watercolour of a fleet amidst icebergs. Although unsigned, this watercolour was originally found in a nineteenth century album with another of very similar style signed and dated by Tobin, an important amateur artist in the early history of Australia. Tobin was born in 1768 and joined the Navy as a lively lad in 1780. He showed natural aptitude and rose to the rank of lieutenant after an extended voyage for the East India Company between 1788-1790. He served with Flinders under Bligh on the Providence, the second voyage to Tahiti to gather breadfruit following the disastrous Bounty mutiny.Tobin was a highly skilled watercolourist who kept a detailed record of the Providence voyage including paintings of Tasmanian scenes. On his return to England he served under Cochrane on the Thetis between 1793-1797 and continued to produce marine scenes in a more mature and conservative style than the watercolours undertaken in the Pacific. The Mitchell Library holds an important album of watercolours dating from his service on the Thetis. This study of ships amidst icebergs is strongly reminiscent of the marine studies in this album, characterised by the highly detailed treatment of rigging and naval architecture, accomplished treatment of sea, clouds and sky and the use of subdued and harmonious colouring.This scene more than likely depicts British ships off Newfoundland in 1796. A much larger combined fleet of French and Spanish ships had been repelled by a smaller number of British ships in their attempt to disrupt the fishing industry on Newfoundland in 1796. The flag signal from the main mast of the ship is likely to state "In case of parting company either by accident or otherwise, without have orders where to go Repair to the rendezvous No 2". George Tobin was one of the most important and accomplished amateur artists in the early history of Australia and the opening of the Pacific: 'His colouring was very good - bold and strong and sure. He had an accurate eye for perspective, a sensitive feeling for distance and for the movement of wind and water, and his general composition was almost always excellent' (Rex and Thea Rienits, Early Artists of Australia). Provenance: From a nineteenth century album of watercolours. Slight crease on far right, very good condition overall. [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2017-11-20           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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