John Cleveley the Elder (Southwark circa 1712-1777 Deptford) H.M.S. Tryall in three positions off Antigua

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Lot 37*
John Cleveley the Elder
(Southwark circa 1712-1777 Deptford)
H.M.S. Tryall in three positions off Antigua

Sold for £ 62,500 (US$ 78,954) inc. premium
John Cleveley the Elder (Southwark circa 1712-1777 Deptford)
H.M.S. Tryall in three positions off Antigua
strengthened signature and date 'I. Cleveley Pinx: 1764.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
89.5 x 134cm (35 1/4 x 52 3/4in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Almost certainly commissioned by Commander James Wallace, later Admiral Sir James Wallace (1731-1803), as a memento of his first command, H.M.S. Tryall, to which he was appointed in April 1763.
    Private collection, U.S.A.


    Strategically placed on the furthest eastern edge of the so-called West Indies and situated well away from the much larger Spanish-occupied islands to the north-west, Antigua was commonly called Britain's "Gateway to the Caribbean" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Discovered by Columbus in 1493 and named after the church of Santa Maria la Antigua in Seville, it was colonised by English settlers in 1632 and although raided by the French in 1666, remained a British possession until modern times. Ships of the Royal Navy had begun using the island's 'English Harbour' as a safe haven in the seventeenth century and Fort Berkeley was built in 1704 to defend it. A sizeable naval yard was established in the 1730s and expanded in the next decade, largely as a result of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) when, once again, England and France found themselves in conflict. For any ship-of-war operating in the West Indies therefore, Antigua played an important role not only as a safe anchorage but also boasting some of the best dockyard facilities in the region.

    On 6th August 1743, the Admiralty ordered two new sloops to a design by Joseph Allin, the master shipwright at Deptford Dockyard, both of which were to be built on the Thames – the Hind at Blackwall and the Vulture at Limehouse. Before the month was out, orders for two similar vessels followed but this second pair was to be built at Deptford under the supervision of Allin himself. The two sloops, named Jamaica and Tryall, were essentially identical and were constructed in tandem; both keels were laid on 15th September 1743, both vessels were named on 13th July 1744, and both were completed for sea in quick succession, Tryall on 9th August 1744, a month after her sister Jamaica. Measuring a mere 91½ feet in length with a 26 foot beam, each was armed with 10-6pdrs. and also carried 14-½pdr. swivels. Despite this light armament however, these little sloops were fast and rendered much valuable service during their respective careers.

    Tryall's career began inauspiciously when, in November 1745, she ran ashore on Holy Island, Northumberland but was fortunately salvaged. After repairs, she returned to sea and in 1749 was sent to the Mediterranean, followed by a spell in Nova Scotia. Laid up in 1752, she was refitted in 1754 and sent out to the Leeward Islands where she was based at Antigua until returning home in 1757. Sent to Jamaica in 1758, she was home again by 1761 when she was reportedly "cruising in Home Waters". Paid off in 1762 or 63, as the hostilities with France were coming to an end, she was recommissioned under Commander James Wallace in April 1763 and dispatched to the Caribbean where she remained until late 1767 when she came home for major repairs at Deptford. After that work was completed in October 1768, she was sent to Jamaica for her final commission, paid off for the last time in 1772 and broken up at Woolwich in 1775-76.
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John Cleveley the Elder (Southwark circa 1712-1777 Deptford) H.M.S. Tryall in three positions off Antigua
John Cleveley the Elder (Southwark circa 1712-1777 Deptford) H.M.S. Tryall in three positions off Antigua
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