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H.M.S. Britannia and Hindoostan on the River Dart, 1902
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H.M.S. Britannia and Hindoostan on the River Dart, 1902

Measurements: Overall: 29cm (11.5in) x 32cm (12.5in)

£725

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Watercolour on paper. Signed and dated lower right ‘W. Fred. Mitchell / 1902’ and numbered ‘No 2033’ lower left. Image size: 9cm (3.5in) x 13cm (5in). Framed and glazed.

Port stern view of the H.M.S. Britannia, formerly H.M.S. Prince of Wales that was moored on the Dart, as the training ship for Naval Cadets between 1869 and 1905. The two decker H.M.S Hindoostan, moored ahead of Britannia and connected to her by a covered gangway, provided extra acommodation from the 1860s to 1905 upon the opening of the land based college. Prince George (later George V) joined Britannia in 1877, and survived the bullying and birching, to recall ‘It never did me any good to be a Prince. The Britannia was a pretty tough place, and so far from our benefiting, the other cadets made a point of taking it out on us, on the grounds that they would never be able to do it later on. There was a lot of fighting among the cadets, and the rule was if challenged you had to accept. So they used to make me go up and challenge the bigger cadets. I was awfully small then, and I'd get a hiding time and again. But one day I was landed one on the nose that made me bleed. It was the best blow I ever had, as the doctor forbade me to fight any more.’

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
 

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