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Two Views of an East Indiaman of the Time of William III
1685

Isaac Sailmaker

Two Views of an East Indiaman of the Time of William III  1685 Isaac Sailmaker

A portrait of a powerfully armed East India Company vessel, identifiable by the striped ensign, jack and pendants. A further mark of identification is the cypher positioned above the taffrail. The ship is shown from two positions, on the left it is in port-broadside view, with the bow slightly turned towards the viewer. On the right it is viewed from astern, showing the ornately carved figures of the transom.

Crew can be seen in the rigging in the view to the right, busy with the sails or climbing the shrouds. On the left the anchor
is visible and one figure can be seen on the deck. The artist has incoprorated several sea beasts in the foreground, probably dolphins, a typical motif of Dutch seventeenth-century artists. The vessel mounts over 60 guns, which would, however, have been smaller than those in a man-of-war of equivalent size. The stepped deck aft is a feature of merchantmen, to give greater headroom in the cabins.

The gunports located in the stern galleries above the transom are a very unusual feature, since the galleries were not normally sufficiently strongly built to withstand the recoil of guns. The East India Company had five vessels of 750 tons or more during the reign of William III with the most likely identification of the vessel shown possibly the 'Charles the Second'. Built at Deptford in 1683 this 775-ton ship was commanded by Sir Thomas Grantham and managed four voyages
to the East before the end of its service in 1695.

Another possible identification is that of the 'King William', 800 tons, which was in the service of the Company between 1690 and 1699. Other possible candidates are the 'Tavistock', 750 tons, and the 'Bedford', 800 tons, built in 1696 and 1697 respectively. Finally the 775-ton 'Modena', is a less likely identification, as this vessel was lost in a hurricane in 1691.

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