Montague Dawson 'Taeping and Ariel'<BR />Signed<BR />Oil on canvas<BR />39 x 50cms
Lot 55AR
Montague Dawson (British, 1890-1973) The mighty Clippers - Taeping and Ariel racing home neck-and-neck with the new season's tea
Sold for £56,450 (US$ 88,589) inc. premium

Lot Details
Montague Dawson (British, 1890-1973)
The mighty Clippers - Taeping and Ariel racing home neck-and-neck with the new season's tea
signed 'Montague Dawson' (lower left)
oil on board
41 x 51.4cm (16 1/8 x 20 1/4in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE:
    with Frost and Reed, London
    Private collection, UK

    Despite the significant technological developments in steam navigation during the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the ships which constantly attracted most public attention in that era were the legendary tea clippers which, although entirely powered by the wind, were unquestionably the fastest commercial sailing vessels the world had ever seen. Two in particular of these remarkable thoroughbreds – Ariel and Taeping – were amongst the most celebrated of their breed and Ariel was even referred to as "the fastest thing the wind ever drove through the water". The so-called 'clippers' of the 1850s were replaced, in the early 1860s, with a new generation of composite ships generically known as the 'Greenock Model', the lines of which were designed by Robert Steele, one of the foremost shipbuilders on the Clyde. In 1863, after completing his Serica and Young Lochinvar entirely in wood, Steele laid down and built his first composite clipper [of wooden planks laid upon iron frames] and named her Taeping. Registered at 767 tons and measuring 184 feet in length with a 31 foot beam, she proved a huge success thanks to her uncanny ability to excel in light winds as well as anything stronger. After a good maiden voyage in 1864, despite being disabled in a typhoon off Formosa and being forced into Amoy for repairs, she ran home in 104 days in 1865 only to eclipse that achievement with her memorable 99-day performance the following year [see below]. First home with the new season's tea in 1867 and again in 1870, her final voyage the next year ended in premature disaster when she was wrecked on Ladd's Reef in the South China Sea on 22nd September 1871.

    Like Taeping, Ariel was also the product of Robert Steele's yards at Greenock and was launched on 19th June 1865. Registered at 852 tons and 198 feet in length with a 34 foot beam, she too proved extraordinarily fast and fulfilled all the expectations that accompanied Steele's clippers right from the start. Ordered by Shaw, Lowther & Maxton of London, she and Taeping shared the honour of being first home with the 1866 tea crop whilst her next passage out – 79 days from Gravesend to Hong Kong (pilot to pilot) – was the fastest ever recorded. In the 1870-71 season she carried tea from Yokohama to New York but her brilliant career was cut short when she disappeared at sea sometime after leaving London, bound for Sydney, on 31st January 1872 and was never heard of again.

    THE GREAT TEA RACE OF 1866:
    By the mid-1860s, the clippers' annual homeward passage with the new season's tea crop had become a race and the contest fought out in 1866 became the most famous of them all. At the end of May that year, four of the tea trade's fastest carriers - Ariel, Fiery Cross, Serica and Taeping – were all loading cargo at Foochow; Ariel cleared the dockside first but minor problems with tugs and tides in the estuary delayed all four until, by noon on 30th May, the memorable quartet of contenders were all in open water. The run home to England proved heroic, with the four ships passing and re-passing each other on many occasions, but by the time Ariel and Taeping reached the Scillies, they were out in front with Serica a few hours astern. Practically neck-and-neck, the two leading clippers raced up the English Channel logging 14 knots for much of 5th September. At 8 o'clock the next morning, Ariel signalled her number off Deal with Taeping only ten minutes behind her. Reaching the Nore, Taeping picked up the better of the two available tugs and arrived off Gravesend to await the tide just ahead of her running mate. Still a race to the last, Taeping – drawing less water than her rival – docked in London at 9.47pm., Ariel tied up at 10.13pm. and Serica got in at 11.30pm., just as the dock gates were closing. It was a breathtaking finish to the 99-day dash across the world and the closest result possible to a dead heat.

    Montague Dawson's lifelong fascination with the beauty of these unrivalled sailing ships which dominated the China Tea trade for a decade and more led him to paint the two most famous examples of the breed – Ariel and Taeping – on several occasions. Always done from different perspectives however, the version offered in this catalogue is a classic bow view of the two vessels, neck-and-neck, as they dash up the Channel on the final day of the 1866 Race.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
AR Artists Resale Right

Goods subject to Artists Resale Right Additional Premium.

Contacts
  1. Alistair Laird
    Specialist - Marine Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8211
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
Similar Items