"Royal Bay – Elizabeth Island: Strait of Magellan" Alexander RATTRAY.

"Royal Bay – Elizabeth Island: Strait of Magellan".
"Royal Bay – Elizabeth Island: Strait of Magellan".

Straits of Magellan: aboard HMS Salamander, [1867].

Original watercolour over pen and pencil, 76 x 298 mm; signed, inscribed with title on verso; mounted.

The Salamander under steam in the Strait of Magellan

Fine original watercolour view by Alexander Rattray (1830-1906), naval surgeon aboard HMS Salamander, of the ship making steam with sails furled off Elizabeth Island in the Straits of Magellan — named and claimed for England by Francis Drake in 1578, it was one of the first English territorial claims in the New World, preceding Drake's claim of New Albion in 1579 and Humphrey Gilbert's claim of Newfoundland in 1583. Rattray depicts the Salamander on her way back to England from Australia where she had taken part in the foundation and subsequent supplying of the Somerset Mission, the short-lived settlement on Cape York, north-eastern Australia.

Fine original watercolour view by Alexander Rattray (1830-1906), naval surgeon aboard HMS Salamander, of the ship making steam with sails furled off Elizabeth Island in the Straits of Magellan — named and claimed for England by Francis Drake in 1578, it was one of the first English territorial claims in the New World, preceding Drake's claim of New Albion in 1579 and Humphrey Gilbert's claim of Newfoundland in 1583. Rattray depicts the Salamander on her way back to England from Australia where she had taken part in the foundation and subsequent supplying of the Somerset Mission, the short-lived settlement on Cape York, north-eastern Australia.
The ship was assigned to the Australia Station in 1863, under the command of John Carnegie. As well as her involvement in the Somerset settlement, she also transported the party to set up the coaling station at Albany passage. Under Captain (later Vice-Admiral) George Nares she undertook survey work along the Great Barrier Reef; many places were named after members of her crew, including both Hayman and Hamilton Islands, as well as Langford, Eshelby, Dent, Arkhurst, Henning, Arnit and Gumbrell Islands. The expedition also named both Double Cone Islands and Nares Rock. When she ran aground east of Magnetic Island off Townsville she also had the dubious honour of the offending reef being named for her, even though she had successfully refloated. In 1866 they took the crew of the wrecked Conqueror from Somerset to safety at Port Denison (modern Bowen).
Designed by Joseph Seaton as a steam vessel, the ship had been launched in 1832; by the time of this drawing in the mid-1860s she was a well-travelled old stager who had seen action off Spain in the 1830s and in the East Indies in the 1850s as well as service on the South America Station, in the Pacific, west Africa, and the Mediterranean. One of the first paddle warships built for the Royal Navy, she originally had a schooner rig, subsequently changed to the barquentine rig shown here.
The Salamander also undertook survey duties of Wilsons Promontory and Port Phillip Bay under Nares, finally heading back to England in mid-1867. At the end of the year she was paid off into the Steam Reserve, subsequently doing more basic duties as a tug or a transport, finally being broken up in 1883.

Provenance: With Martyn Gregory Gallery, London in 1993 (described in their catalogue 62, "Alexander Rattray 1830-1906, Naval Surgeon").

Bastock, John, Ships on the Australia Station, Frenchs Forest, 1988; Winfield, Rif & David Lyon, The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815–1889, London, 2004. Online resources: www.navalhistory.net; www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=HMS%20Salamander%20(1832; blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/jol/2014/02/18/queensland-places-cape-york-hms-salamander/.

Price (AUD): $2,100.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504700

Condition Report