The Loss Of The Indiaman Kent by Theodore Gudin
The Loss Of The Indiaman Kent by Theodore Gudin

The Loss Of The Indiaman Kent

The Loss Of The Indiaman Kent by French Painter Jean Antoine Théodore Gudin (1802 – 1880); a marine art painter and court painter to King Louis Philippe and then French Emperor Napoleon III.

The East Indiaman Kent was owned by Stewart Marjoribanks and entered service with the East India Company in 1820. The Indiaman Kent was carrying about 700 people, mainly solders from the 31st regiment and their families, and it was commanded by Henry Cobb; and was on a voyage to Bengal, Bombay and China.

The Loss Of The Indiaman Kent starts off in 1825, on February 19, the ship sailed from the Downs on a third voyage to Bengal and then China; during the 27th and 28th of February it encountered a storm, and on March 1, in the Bay of Biscay the ship accidentally caught fire.

It was reported that there were individuals trying to steal liquor in her hold using a naked light (match, candle…) to see in the darkness that was responsible for the fire.

Efforts were made to put out the fire by scuttling the lower ports to flood the hold, but due to the fear of the ship sinking the ports had to be shut.

A sailor was sent aloft, presumably to the crows-nest; and reported another vessel in the vicinity. Thus a complex rescue effort was undertaken to ferry passengers and crew through the mountainous seas to the brig ‘Cambrian’, captained by Captain Cooke which was bound for Vera Cruz with its passengers of Cornish miners.

Though the majority of the passengers made it off the ship; some though did not survive the two day / three night journey to Falmouth; most of the dead being children.

Above information derived from Royal Museums Greenwhich

In the scene we see the Indiaman Kent on fire during rough seas as the ship is listing to starboard with large waves smashing into her port side and above her main deck at the bow.

In the water there are already two rowboats retrieving people from the sea while others are being hoisted into the closest rowboat from the stern of the ship.

Near this boat, we see a body just beneath the waves and another man some distance off trying to swim his way towards the boat.

On the ship toward the stern we can see a man hanging on the side of the ship, getting ready to plunge into the sea, as he tries to escape the raging inferno in the lower deck of the ship, that can be seen just above him.

While on the main deck of the ship we see the panicking passengers, as the yellow brown smoke engulfs most of the ship, and as large ocean waves relentlessly hit it broadside.

In the distances, we can see another ship struggling in the rough seas, that has dispatched a rowboat to help rescue survivors of the Indiaman Kent.

The Loss Of The Indiaman Kent is a remastered digital art old masters reproduction of a public domain image that is available for purchase online as a canvas print.

Info Below Derived From Wikipedia.org

Théodore was born in Paris France and he and his older brother Jean-Louis (1799 – 1823), were raised by his mother who was a widow.

Though he was enrolled in a Naval school in France, he abandoned his studies and embarked on a trip to New York City in the United States where he mingled with the Bonapartists (person who either actively participated in or advocated for conservative, monarchist) in exile.

In 1819 Gudin decided to join the United States Navy and became part of the crew of the Manchester Packet, a 250 ton brig (a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts).

Then in 1822 he returned to Paris and inspired by his brother who had become a student of French Painter Horace Vernet (1789 – 1863); decided to pursue a career in art, and was able to take up a position in the studios of French Painter Anne-Louis Girodet (1767 – 1824).

That same year he made his debut at the Salon; but the very next year in 1823 things would take a tragic turn, as he and his brother were involved in a shipwreck on the Seine river in France, where his brother drowned. This event would have a profound impact on him for the rest of his life.

In 1824 he exhibited a painting of ships that had taken him on a visit to the United States at the Salon and won the support of the future King Louis Philippe I (1773 – 1850).

In 1828 he was commissioned by King Charles X (1754 – 1836) to paint a depiction of Ensign Hippolyte Bisson (1796 – 1827) who, the year before, had blown up his ship rather than surrender it to pirates.

Shortly after completing his commission, Gudin went with his friend French Navy officer Abel Aubert du Petit-Thouars, to participate in the Algerian Expedition (1830 – 1903), where he made numerous sketches of his adventure.

After returning from the Algerian Expedition, he was awarded the title of “Peintre de la Marine” at the court of Louis Philippe; and over the next several years made painting trips to Italy, Switzerland and Russia.

He was then made a Baron by the King, and was commissioned to produce ninety paintings on French naval history for the Palace of Versailles; a monumental task that apparently undermined his health.

In 1841 he was named an officer in the Legion of Honor and following an exhibition in Berlin in 1845 he received the Cross Pour le Mérite.

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