Monday, November 21, 2011

Another 'Success'-ful work of art

Another work of art depicting the ship Success has surfaced in the National Maritime Collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum. And this one bears similarities - at least superficially - to one that I have discussed previously.

If you follow this blog you know that in March I wrote a story about the maritime artist Frederick Garling and the a wonderful watercolor he painted of the Success in 1849. Well the newly discovered work you see above is also a watercolor and is also by an artist named Frederick. This one was Frederick Elliot.

Here's what is posted on the National Maritime Collection site about Elliot:
Fred Elliot was a marine painter active in Brisbane and later in Sydney, working primarily in watercolour. He was born in England in 1865 and came to Queensland with his family in 1876. He worked as a lithographic artist at the Queensland Government Printing Office from 1896 to about 1903, and later moved to Sydney. A prolific artist, he painted sailing ships, liners, merchant and naval ships, often depicted with dramatic atmospheric effects. His watercolours are high keyed and often echo the romantic effects of soft light and mist popularised by J J Hilder. He rarely painted in oil, but was commissioned in 1910 to paint a large portrait of shipowner partners Andrew McIlwraith and Malcolm Donald McEacharn.
What I find interesting about this work is that Elliot has placed the ship in Sydney harbor. You will note that here she is rigged as a barkentine. She didn't receive a barkentine rig until early 1912 in preparation for her voyage from England to the U.S. Additionally, the white trim on her hull extends down to midway on her quarter gallery. Again, this paint trim was a characteristic of her appearance during her tour of the U.S. I conclude from this that Elliot based this work on photographs of the ship taken in the U.S., or from sketches after seeing the ship in person somewhere in the U.S., and yet he chose Sydney as a backdrop. Most interesting.

The work is undated (as was most of Elliot's work) but I conclude it must have been done after 1912.

The old Success has inspired many fine artists over the years. This watercolor by Fred Elliot is a fine addition to that body of work.


  1. Terrific Rich.
    We luv your work and look forward to reading your book.
    Is there any chance that we may view your presentation electronically.

    Kindest regards,

    Colleen MacLeod Australia

  2. Thank you Colleen! At present the only presentation I have prepared is the one I use for public speaking. But I would love to come back to Australia to give my talk there so please encourage any civic groups, libraries or museums that you know to bring me back! Also, I'm glad you contacted me as I have some info to pass on to you. Please email me. (Find my email me at

  3. This was a great article. I hope you will continue to write more about this ship. Do people have any old letters or captain's logs? It would also be interesting to examine passenger logs if they even exist.

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