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A portrait of two unknown sailors set among wooden beams in the fo'c'sle of a smack. Berwick smacks were sailing vessels that carried salmon and other cargo, together with passengers, to London before the coming of the railway. They were built for sailing fast and could also fight their way out of trouble. Two smacks set out for London every week and the passenger fare was one-and-a-half guineas.
The atmospheric painting is bathed with light from the open hatch on the right, which both highlights details of the men and acts as a contrast with the darkness suggested on the left. The artist, who exhibited this painting at the British Institution in 1831, was born and died in Berwick-on-Tweed. He began life as a house decorator but began to paint coastal and landscape subjects in his spare time. He first exhibited at Edinburgh in 1815 and later in the major London exhibitions. In 1828 he became an honorary member of the Royal Scottish Academy but exhibited little after 1834 though he continued to paint.
oil on panel
H 31.8 x W 42 cm