The loss of the East Indiaman Kent, 1st March 1825 - Catching Fire and the Burning Hulk a pair, both signed 'Luny' and dated 1836 (lower left) oil on canvas 50.8 x 68.6cm (20 x 27in). (2)
The saving of those persons aboard the burning East Indiaman Kent was one of the most dramatic sea rescues of the nineteenth century and indeed of the entire age of sail. The Kent, 1,332 tons, was built at the East India Company's own yard on the Thames at Blackwall in 1820 and had already completed three return voyages to India when she was chartered to transport the officers and men of the 31st Regiment of Foot for service in the East. Sailing from the Downs on 19th February 1825, the Kent made good progress until, on 1st March, during a severe gale in the Bay of Biscay, a lighted lamp was accidentally dropped into the main hold where it immediately ignited some spirits which had escaped from a damaged cask. In an instant the hold was ablaze; the fire spread rapidly and soon threatened to engulf the whole ship and all those aboard her for whom the heavy seas provided no alternative escape. As if by a miracle, the Cambria, a small 200-ton brig commanded by Captain William Cook and carrying a party of Cornish tin miners to Vera Cruz, hove into sight and, with great gallantry on the part of her crew, rescued all but eighty-two persons from the blazing East Indiaman. Crammed with almost five hundred and fifty survivors, the Cambria immediately put back to Falmouth where she was greeted with a tumultuous reception before those saved were landed ashore and placed into the care of the local inhabitants.
This dramatic incident was depicted by several other artists, most notably Thomas Buttersworth and William Daniell.
A similar pair to that offered in this catalogue is held in the National Collection at Greenwich, for which see Concise Catalogue of Oil Paintings in the National Maritime Museum, 1988, p. 259, BHC 2272 (illustrated) & BHC 2273.