Early View of Douglas Bay Isle of Man at Bonhams Marine Sale

London – A painting of Douglas Bay dating from the 1840s and providing an early view of the Isle of Man is among the leading works at Bonhams Marine Sale in London on Wednesday 27 April. Painted by Joseph Heard (1799-1859), Douglas Bay, Isle of Man is estimated at £15,000-20,000.

The painting also provides a reminder of the close links between the Isle of Man and the founding of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute back in the 1820s. In the middle of the Bay sits Conister Rock where in October 1822 Sir William Hillary witnessed the grounding of the Royal Navy Cutter, Vigilant, in a storm. True to his family motto, 'With courage nothing is impossibly, Sir William called for volunteers – whom he paid from his own pocket – and saved nearly 100 men from Vigilant and other stricken vessels. This incident convinced Sir William of the need for a nationwide system of properly equipped lifeboats, manned by trained crews.

In 1824, with the support of the opinion formers of the day he won over an initially sceptical Admiralty and the forerunner to the RNLI was born. The building on Conister Rock depicted in the painting is known as The Tower of Refuge and provided shelter for shipwrecked seaman. Another brainchild of Sir William's, the tower has been a local landmark since its construction in 1832 and flies the RNLI flag to this day.

Bonhams Director of 19th century pictures, Alistair Laird, said: "This fascinating painting provides a rare glimpse of Douglas as it appeared around 180 years ago. Joseph Heard was a fine marine artist and he painted Douglas Bay, Isle of Man in the latter half of his career after he moved to Liverpool from his native Whitehaven."

11 April 2022

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