(Enlarged Photo)

John Wilson Carmichael (1800 - 1868)

The Flying Dutchman

Oil on canvas, signed and dated 1867

Carmichael was a Newcastle-born artist, who exhibited principally in his home town at the Northern Academy of Arts, but also widely at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. He was a pupil of Thomas Miles Richardson Snr and developed a reputation for painstaking accuracy and a feeling for the atmosphere and minutiae of naval life. This was rewarded when The Illustrated London News commissioned him to record the Crimean War. Most of his work is highly finished, detailed and realistic, which makes the imaginative flights of this atmospheric picture all the more remarkable. The legend of the Flying Dutchman first appeared in the late 18th C and referred to a Dutch Man 'O War of that period that was lost off the Cape of Good Hope and appeared to its former consorts as a ghost ship. Numerous subsequent sightings, including by witnesses as sober and reliable as George V imprinted the ship in naval folk lore. Sighting the dreaded ship was seen as a portent of doom, as in Carmichael's picture, where she is seen and hailed by a dismasted ship in its death throes. Work by the artist is held at the Royal Collection, the National Maritime Museum and a variety of provincial museums and art galleries .

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