Joseph Heard (British, 1799-1859) The inward bound Liverpool barque John Tomkinson portrayed in two views  'boarding her pilot' in the River  Mersey's Formby Channel 1840
Lot 133
Joseph Heard (British, 1799-1859) The inward bound Liverpool barque John Tomkinson portrayed in two views 'boarding her pilot' in the River Mersey's Formby Channel 1840
Sold for £7,750 (US$ 13,026) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Joseph Heard (British, 1799-1859)
The inward bound Liverpool barque John Tomkinson portrayed in two views 'boarding her pilot' in the River Mersey's Formby Channel 1840
signed and indistinctly dated 'Jos Heard/1840' (lower left)
oil on canvas
72 x 92cm (28 3/8 x 36 1/4in).

Footnotes

  • In typical fashion Heard conveys his narrative with commendable brevity; the unmistakeable outline of the Formby Light Vessel under the barque's bowsprit denoting its location off Formby Point only about seven miles north of Liverpool and the 'pilot jack' at the fore masthead indicating a request for a pilot. That the request has been made so late suggests a bold master and one familiar with the many hazards of the Liverpool approaches. The artist continues his narrative on the left of the painting where the barque is seen in stern view under reduced sail and 'hove to' having changed tack, to board her pilot from the approaching #5 pilot sloop Isaac. Built in 1805 and 50 tons register the latter was sold out of service in 1843. The barque John Tomkinson, 260 tons, was built at Kirkcudbright in 1840 for Rimmer & Co. of Liverpool her voyages including Hobart and the West Indies; her last entry in Lloyd's Registers being for 1856. The barque's identity is beyond doubt, as testified by the triangular red name pendant at her main masthead and corroborated by her male figurehead. What is puzzling at first sight is the the unusual flag hoist at her mizzen masthead; the four lower flags reading 2,9,6,4 in Marryat's Code. Under the upper chequered "rendezvous flag" as portrayed, this hoist would normally indicate a geographical item or location- in this instance "Fair Isle" - apparently quite irrelevant

    However the mystery was eventually solved on recalling that by 1840 the escalating number of ship names meant that Marryat had exhausted the capacity of his "Ship Names" section, denoted by a triangular pennant. Pending a complete revision of this section and purely as a temporary solution in the seventh edition of 1840, this excess of ship names was stored as a supplement at the end of the adjacent rendezvous section and therefore temporally housed under the chequered flag instead of its 'proper' triangular pennant. Such proved to be the case on acquiring a copy of the extremely rare 1840 7th edition Marryat Code which revealed the entry "2,9,6,4, John Tomkinson " In the later editions following the major reorganisation it appears as 6,2,9,5 under the original pendant (now the 'first triangular pendant) . Familiarity with such detail is evidence of Heard's attention to minutiae.


    We are grateful to Dr Sam Davidson for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.
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