The steam ship Osiris oil on canvas 46 x 56cm (18 1/8 x 22 1/16in).
PROVENANCE: A gift from the artist to Colonel Frank Warren OBE MC Thence by descent
The RMS passenger liner Osiris was built in 1898 for the Peninsular & Orient Steam Navigation Co. by Caird & Co., Greenock and launched in 1898. At 300ft in length and 1738grt, Osiris and her sister ship Isis were designed for the Brindisi to Port Said shuttle service, carrying just 74 First Class passengers as well as the First Class mail, which were then trans-shipped to the main line steamer service. With triple expansion steam engines and twin screw propellers, she was capable of 20knots and made the passage to Port Said in 25 hours. At the outbreak of war in 1914, she was commandeered by the Admiralty for an armed merchant cruiser, although a year later she had been converted to a submarine depot ship. After the war ended, she was transferred back to P&O but was laid up at Falmouth and sold for breaking up at Wilhelmshaven in 1922.
Spurling's evocative depiction of Osiris battling into a heavy sea does not coincide with most people's vision of Mediterranean cruising, but does remind us of the imperatives of running a passenger shuttle service in all weathers.