Art Gallery of Old Ship Portraits and Marine Paintings

China Trade Painting

Lai Fong attr. (fl. 1880s-1910) - Large Portrait of the Scotish Ship *Janet Cowan* mastering a Storm, ca. 1880s - the large three-masted sailing ship at high sea and with reduced sails - Oil on canvas, 65 by 89 cm (25 / 1/2 by 35 inch), with frame 78 x 102 cm (27 1/2 by 39 inch) - inscribed on the bow with ship`s name - relined, usual China Trade crackle, small sign of age and expert restoration in sky, good condition - Private Collection, Tokyo, Japan

This China Trade painting can be attributed to Lai Fong, who worked as a China Trade artist in Calcutta. The Janet Cowan was built in 1866 in Greenock (later refit) for the Scotish owner, Shankland in Greenock. It was a large ship of 217 feet and measured at 1278 tons. Photo Copyright.

Presented by the FineArtEmporium in Hamburg.

attr. to Lai Fong (China Trade artist fl. 1880s - 1910) - Portrait of the ship "Janet Cowan" at the high sea - Go back to the Lai Fong page or to the Gallery

Following are shown some more photos of the painting (reflections of light in upper left area):


This is one of the fine and fast sailing ships built in Scotland in the 19th Century for large loads and long overseas trips. It remembers us of the famous clipper ships built some years earlier on this side of the Atlantic. It seems that this was a quite solid and well built ship since it was more than 20 years in service. Maybe this explains why the Captain survived this storm shown on the painting. It might have been a Typhoon in the Indian Ocean or not so dramatically - just a heavy storm at Cape Horn. The tradition to commission such paintings is old and goes back to the so called Ex-Voto paintings in the 18th and early 19th Century. Following is shown an example of an Italian Ex-Voto from a private collection in Canada:

The captain usually ordered them (in the earlier times) to thank God that he survived this challenge. Later in the 19th Century his main purpose was to impress visitors of his house or ship with a record how he was able to master such a dangerous situation. There exist storm ship portraits also showing broken masts and sails blown in pieces etc. but this a happy painting, everything is complete on the vessel. No nautical collection is complete without at least one painting like this.