WILLIAM J. HUGGINS (BRITISH 1771-1845). THE CLIPPER “RED ROVER” IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA.
Built in 1830 on the Hooghly River, Calcutta, India, the “Red Rover” was famous for making the fastest round trips between Canton and Calcutta. The firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co. were partial owners, eventually becoming the ship’s sole owner. Alexander Robertson, a merchant and super cargo affiliated with the firm, commissioned Huggins to paint portraits of the “Rover” and the “Sylph,” two ships he had been involved with, when he returned home to Aberdeenshire. Oil on canvas, 27 ½ x 38 ½ inches. Inscribed on the reverse before lining, “Red Rover/ belonged to Alexander Robertson/ father of M.F. Longueville,” the stretcher with gallery label. In an ornate period gilt frame.
Provenance: Alexander Robertson, merchant at Macao (1820’s-1840), and by descent in his family; Sotheby’s London, March 12, 1986: Martyn Gregory Gallery, London. Note: William J. Huggins’ portrait of the “Sylph,” the other painting commissioned by Robertson, was sold at Sotheby’s London, April 14, 2011, lot 265.Exhibitions: Martyn Gregory and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, “Canton and the China Trade: Early Pictures Relating to the Far East,” Hong Kong, May 13-18, 1986, catalogue no. 44.