John Wilson Carmichael (British, 1799-1868) The Mary White life boat rescuing the crew of the American Ship the Northern Belle
Lot 107
John Wilson Carmichael
(British, 1799-1868)
The Mary White life boat rescuing the crew of the American Ship the Northern Belle
Sold for £ 35,000 (US$ 45,331) inc. premium

The Marine Sale

15 Apr 2015, 14:00 BST

London, Knightsbridge

Lot Details
John Wilson Carmichael (British, 1799-1868)
The Mary White life boat rescuing the crew of the American Ship the Northern Belle
oil on canvas
76.5 x 107cm (30 1/8 x 42 1/8in).

Footnotes

  • In the early hours of January 5th 1857, an American transatlantic ship called the Northern Belle ran into trouble off Thanet. The ship had been cast ashore on a dangerous ledge of rocks below the Foreness Point, at Kingsgate, between Broadstairs and Margate. No lives were lost, thanks to the heroic rescue efforts of the Mary White and Culmer White lifeboats in blizzard conditions. Local historian William Lapthorne described the events of the rescue: 'On arrival at the beach the boats were launched, and with a total disregard for their own safety, the crews pulled boldly through the boiling surf and, after making several hazardous trips, saved most of the crew of the stricken vessel.' 'The Mary White, having been dragged across fields of snow, was able to bring off seven of the American crew, and then the Culmer White, having arrived with a fresh crew, made two further journeys, on the first attempt rescuing fourteen shipwrecked men, and only then returning to recover the Captain and the Pilot.'*

    In response to these events the then American President, Franklin Pierce, ordered 25 Silver Medals to be struck which, together with a sum of salvage money, were awarded to each of the lifeboat crews. It is believed that this is the only known occasion on which such a medal has ever been awarded to an English lifeboat crew.

    Soon after the rescue the Mary White, with both lifeboat crews aboard, was drawn through the narrow streets of Broadstairs, proudly displaying the American ensign of the Northern Belle.

    A hand-coloured lithograph, after this painting was produced by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton, a copy of which is in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

    *Michael Cates and Diane Chamberlain, The Maritime Heritage of Thanet, East Kent Maritime Trust (1997)
Activities
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