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A Monmouth-Class British Armed Cruiser, 1904
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A Monmouth-Class British Armed Cruiser, 1904

Measurements: Overall: 42cm (16.5in) x 52cm (20.5in)

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Watercolour on paper. Signed and dated lower right ‘William Frederick Mitchell / 1904’ and numbered ‘No 2267’ lower left. Image 25cm (9.75in) x 35cm (13.75in). Framed and glazed.

The Monmouth class was a ten-ship class of 10,000-ton armoured cruisers built between 1901 to 1903 for the Royal Navy and designed specifically for commerce protection. The ships were also referred to as County-class cruisers as they carried the names of British counties.

William Frederick Mitchell (1845-1914) was a deaf mute. He lost his hearing to scarlet fever in infancy. His father, an H.M. Coastguard stationed at Calshot Castle, taught him to speak. William, known as Fred, developed a career as a maritime artist. He lived most of his life around the Solent and had an arrangement with a Portsmouth bookshop which accepted commissions on his behalf, mostly from naval officers for portraits to illustrate steps in their careers. Fred also illustrated the Brassey’s Naval Annual.  In 1904 he recorded in The Messenger, a magazine for deaf people, his marriage in 1881 and that he settled at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where his patrons included Queen Victoria, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich and The Kaiser. His work can be found in the Royal Collection and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

 

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