The wreck of the Channel Islands' packet steamer Express in St. Brelade's Bay, Jersey, 20th September 1859 oil on canvas 28 x 40.5cm (11 x 15 15/16in).
PROVENANCE: with N.R. Omell, London Sale, Christie's London, 13th November 1992, lot 174, sold £8,000
Built on the Thames at Blackwall By Ditchburn & Mare and completed in June 1847 for the New South Western Steam Navigation Company, Express was registered at 255 tons gross (155 net) and measured 159 feet in length with a 22 foot beam. She began her short-lived career, in fact, on the Southampton to Le Havre route and even 'made the headlines' the following year when, on 2nd March, she brought the fleeing French King Louis-Philippe into Newhaven to begin his exile. Transferred onto Jersey services in May 1848, she later inaugurated the new Weymouth to Jersey run in April 1857. On 20th September 1859, when homeward bound from St. Helier, via St. Peter Port, her temporary master, Captain Mabb, took the risky inshore passage off Corbière where she struck some submerged rocks known as Les Boiteaux. Making water fast, her captain ran her into shallow water in St. Brelade's Bay although not before two passengers had already panicked, jumped overboard and been drowned. Apart from them, all other 108 persons aboard were saved, along with three valuable racehorses en route to Guernsey to race the following day.
The artist in the left foreground shown painting the incident 'from life' is said to be Ouless although it is not certain whether he attended the scene.