Captain Thomas Hastings, HMS Naval Frigates at Sea - 1805 watercolour painting


An original 1805 watercolour painting, Captain Thomas Hastings HMS Naval Frigates at Sea.

An impressive maritime watercolour in grisaille, dated August 1805, by Captain Thomas Hastings (1778-1854). Centrally depicted is a two-decked frigate negotiating stormy seas. The location of this naval view at sea is unknown. An etching by Hastings of a similar naval subject (in the collection of Royal Museums Greenwich) is dated 1804 and shows a storm off the Cape of Good Hope. A slightly later watercolour, dating from November 1805, places Hastings at Sidmouth in Devon.

This fine grisaille painting shares qualities with Hasting’s Greenwich etching, which Marianne A. Yule (Hasting’s brief biographer) describes thus: ‘Sharp contrasts between dark and light accentuate the depth and height of the waves of the stormy sea, as they are about to engulf the dwarfed ship; numerous intermediate shades suggest overlapping layers in the water and clouds’.

The verso of the painting is inscribed indistinctly, ‘T. Barnett to H.L. Hunter (?)’. The meaning of this is unknown - there was a Henry Lannoy Hunter Esq. of Beech Hill, Berkshire, who was of the South Sea Company around that time.

On watercolour paper.

Signed and dated lower right: 'T. Barnett Aug.t 27th 1805'. Historically inscribed with collector’s notes on the verso: ‘Captain T. Barnett. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1804-1805 (see Graves, Dict. of Painters)’, and also ‘not for sale’.
The paper has a central vertical fold, which has been shored up on the verso historically with tape. The corners of the sheet are worn, with small losses and creases as shown. There is a short repaired tear to the upper edge, and some scattered foxing and surface marks, including marks to the left-hand edge, as shown.
34cm x 49cm.

Captain Thomas Hastings (1778-1854) was born Thomas Barnett, the son of a lawyer. Both he and his brother changed their name to that of their maternal great-grandmother in 1812, their father having been convicted of perjury in 1807. Thomas was an officer in the british army 1795-1811, in which he trained as a surveyor, saw service in India and was made Captain from 1799. From 1819 to 1853 he was in the Customs service, mainly in the high rank of Collector.

He was a dedicated amateur painter, draughtsman, watercolour artist and etcher of landscapes, topographical views, marine subjects and coast scenes. As an etcher he became an Associate of the Liverpool Academy, and he exhibited widely - including at the Royal Academy of Arts, the Society of Painters in Watercolours, the British Institution and the Hibernian Academy. He was also a keen promoter of archery and founder of the Carisbrooke Archers Society in 1829.

Hastings was influenced by the Welsh landscape painter Richard Wilson RA (1714-1782). He made forty etchings of paintings by Wilson (two of which he owned) which were published as a series in 1824.

Works by Hastings are held in the collections of Royal Museums Greenwich, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, and Yale Centre for British Art.

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Product code: JL-884

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