The Royal Yacht Britannia was when launched revolutionary and controversial.
A story for my forthcoming book?
Later converted to a ‘J Class’, she actually had 7 changes of rig, I’ve shown here as she originally appeared.
She won over 200 races, still a record.
I have just two prints of this painting left unsold.
When I first painted ‘R Y Britannia‘ I carried out considerable research.
That activity took me to Cowes on the Isle of Wight where I had a very interesting, at least to me and possibly you, conversation with the famous marine photographers Mr. Beken 2 and 3 at their shop in West Cowes.
The Beken men have been photographing ships and yachts, often brilliantly, for 3 generations, probably a unique family achievement.
With much in common and a mutual admiration, we became friends.
They kindly allowed me to examine the glass plates shot as far astern as 1890, by Mr. Beken 1, a privilege.
I was allowed provided I did not copy one as a painting which other artists have done and they were less than pleased about [copyrights … and the usual mistakes made by the painters who copy photographs] and only because as a trained photographer, I have City and Guild 344 General Photography and so on, I was used to handling delicate glass plates.
By their generosity I was able to make notes and took some prints.
Mr. B 2 who had seen Britannia, said among other things, a mistake the copiers always made was to paint the sails white.
I’ve never forgotten that he was most emphatic that the sails were not white.
He also advised me re the hull colour of ‘Britannia‘.
Curiously, recently I was asked to advise the people who are looking to build the new version of ‘Britannia‘ and they bought one of the very last prints I have; I think I’ve one or two left.
The original was sold long ago to a gentleman at Wivenhoe.
The village of Wivenhoe used to be renowned for boat and yacht building and the fine seamanship of its fishermen who supplied most of Britannia’s crew.
For years, the painting was featured on the Wivenhoe village web site, it seems to have gone now, a pity, still, happily, my painting and prints live on.
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