The lofty trader The Scottish Moors signed 'Montague Dawson' (lower left) oil on canvas 106.7 x 71.1cm (42 x 28in).
An unusually beautiful work from the masters hand, this stately windjammer is shown with most of her sails set to catch what little wind is in the air and cruising effortlessly through the gentle swell as she makes for her next port-of-call. A common enough sight across the worlds oceans for over fifty years, these large iron or steel-hulled windjammers had huge freight capacity and were usually employed carrying bulk cargoes such as coal, grain or wool.
In this pleasingly statuesque composition, Dawson has selected the Scottish Moors as his subject, a splendid windjammer of her day and a vessel whose career mirrored so many of her breed. Owned by W.H. Ross & Co.s Scottish Line, this was a prosperous enterprise started with some Canadian-built wooden vessels in the 1850s and which, in 1876, launched its first iron trader Scottish Chieftain. Not favouring a single yard to build its fleet, Rosss placed the order for Scottish Moors with Richardson, Duck & Co. at Stockton-on-Tees. Completed in 1890, the new vessel was registered in Liverpool at 2,400 tons gross (2,289 net) and measured exactly 300 feet in length with a 42 foot beam. Sporting a full ship rig, she entered service in 1891 under her first master Captain A.W. Robins and proved an invaluable addition to the companys fleet.
Despite her strength and immense carrying capacity, her career was a relatively short one. In the late 1890s the entire Ross fleet was acquired by G. Windram & Co. of Liverpool who only kept their windjammers at sea for about ten years. Along with all her sisters, Scottish Moors was offered for sale, she herself in 1911, and fetched a very satisfactory £5,000 (or £2/3s a ton) compared to the £1/10s a ton Scottish Isles had realised. Bought by Norwegian owners who renamed her Svaland, she worked successfully under her new colours for five years before being dismasted [in a gale?] in 1916. Briefly employed as a barge, she was then refitted as a 4-masted schooner and given an engine and twin screws. Six years after this major conversion, she was on passage from Blythe to Petrograd with a full cargo of coal when she stranded on the shore near Lerberget, on the Swedish coast, opposite Copenhagen, on 21st September 1922. Although successfully refloated, she was deemed too damaged for economic repair and was broken up soon afterwards.
Dawson is known to have painted another view of Scottish Moors, a deck scene entitled Up She Rises, which is noted in Ramseys catalogue raisonné, 2nd revised edition, 1970, no. 220.