HMS ST VINCENT AND VICTORY: THE ENTRANCE TO PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR
(MP121). Frank Watson Wood (1862-1953). Watercolour signed and dated 1904.
Limited Edition worldwide: 25 copies
Standard size: 14 x 10 ins (35.4 x 25.4 cms) approx.
Price band (incl mount/mat): £80- £105
To those who know their Portsmouth harbour, the ships may have changed since 1904 when this was painted but the harbour entrance, looking out to the Solent, is very familiar! To the right in the painting is the 1st Rate Training Ship for Boys, HMS ST VINCENT (Commander Bentinck Yelverton RN) who was to be scrapped two years later; and behind her Haslar Creek. In the centre is HMS VICTORY who still had another eighteen years to go before she would come alongside prior to being permanently docked in No 1 dry dock.
VICTORY is wearing at her mainmast the St George Cross of a full admiral, one Admiral Sir John Fisher GCB who was C-in-C Portsmouth at the time. His flag captain was another whose name would indelibly appear in the history books, Captain Sir Robert Arbuthnot Bt MVO. This small, wiry, one-time fleet boxing champion was famously to go down in DEFENCE as he charged the German battle line at Jutland in 1916., his ship being pulverised by heavy shells as he made his suicide attack. Both outspoken, both pugnacious, both eccentrics, admiral and flag captain in VICTORY must have been interesting shipmates indeed!
Frank Wood’s early watercolours have a lovely simplicity about them: already he was clearly fascinated by maroon sails which were to be a regular feature of his paintings to follow; and his skies, too, have that familiar pink tinge to them that also was to be the hallmark of so many of his later watercolours.