Maritime masterpiece to be sold – but must stay in Jersey

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The oil painting, by Thomas Whitcombe, is titled Jersey Pier With a Distant View of Elizabeth Castle. It shows the old North Quay, which was demolished in the 19th century, and the South Pier, which still stands today.

Painted in 1785, the scene shows a British merchant ship at anchor flying the Red Ensign, while on the left, by the quayside, is a British Revenue cutter that has recently seen action, which is evident from her shredded sails. The painting is one of the highlights of a two-day auction by Martel Maides Auctions in Guernsey which is being held tomorrow and Thursday.

The artwork is subject to an export restriction from Jersey because of its historical importance to the Island. The Government of Jersey granted a temporary export licence for the piece so that it could be viewed in Guernsey, but following its sale the painting must be returned to the Island.

The painting is the last lot of day one’s afternoon session, which starts at 2pm. It is expected to fetch between £80,000 to £120,000.

London-based artist Thomas Whitcombe visited Jersey in 1785 during a time when there was an uneasy truce between Britain and France. It was only four years after the French were defeated at the Battle of Jersey and only two since hostilities had ended. Whitcombe was a leading marine painter of the day and a
regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy.

‘He is unrivalled for his paintings of naval actions associated with the French Revolutionary Wars and today his work is represented in the Tate Gallery, National Maritime Museum and other museums and galleries worldwide,’ said Jersey representative for Martel Maides Auctions, Jonathan Voak, who catalogued the painting.

‘We are fortunate that his adventurous spirit brought him to Jersey and that he left us this extraordinary image of a moment in our past 235 years ago.’

The auction catalogue can be viewed online at martelmaidesauctions.com and there is live bidding online too.

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