The clipper 'Falcon' off the south China coast oil on canvas 46 x 60cm (18 1/8 x 23 5/8in).
The widely admired clipper Falcon was designed and built for the China tea trade by Robert Steele & Co. at Greenock on the Clyde. Registered at 937 tons gross (794 net), she measured 192 feet in length with a 32 foot beam and, with her fine lines, was considered an "altogether pleasing ship". Owned by Phillips, Shaw & Lowther of London, she was completed in the spring of 1859 and, after a good passage out to China, she left Shanghai on 23rd August to dock back in London on 7th December (a commendable maiden run of 106 days). Under successive captains, she became a familiar sight in the principal tea ports of the east and earned for herself an excellent reputation for speed even though she was no record-breaker. After fully twenty years in the China trade, she was sold to J. Brailli of Orebich (Austria) in 1879 and renamed Sofia Brailli. Subsequently cut down to a barque, to save on crewing costs, she traded out of her home port on the Adriatic until broken up in 1900.