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Eddystone Lighthouse
1708
Isaac Sailmaker

Eddystone Lighthouse  1708 Isaac Sailmaker

A depiction of John Rudyerd's wooden lighthouse. It replaced Henry Winstanley's construction, built between 1696 and 1699 and which was destroyed in the Great Storm of 1703. Winstanley and others died in its collapse. Rudyerd's replacement became the first successful offshore-rock lighthouse in the world until it was destroyed in 1755 by a fire that started in the lantern.

There are four men-of-war, identified by Colonel John Lovett in 1708 as the 'Roebuck', 42 guns, on the left, together with the 'Charles Galley', 36 guns, the 'Swallow', 32 guns, and the ketch 'Aldborough', 24 guns, on the right. All were ships which attended on the construction of the lighthouse, while those beyond bear the flags of the countries who contributed financially to the project.

Plymouth Harbour is visible in the background. The picture was one of the four versions commissioned by Lovett in 1708. One was for the Lord High Admiral, Prince George of Denmark, another for Trinity House and a third was a different family version to this, at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire (now National Trust). The painting was identified as the work of Sailmaker through an engraving by Hulsbergh, dated 1733, which credits him as the artist.

This discovery was a landmark in early marine painting since it served to indicate the signifying features of a Sailmaker painting. The picture itself provides a rare and striking image of an offshore lighthouse, showing the iron bolts set into the rock to hold down the structure. The circular staircase leading up from the rock to the entrance is also clearly shown. The lantern's light was supplied by 24 candles. A figure is shown on the balcony of the lantern, looking out towards the shipping with a telescope.

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