Royal Navy - H.M.S. Hydra, 1884
Royal Navy - H.M.S. Hydra, 1884
Royal Navy - H.M.S. Hydra, 1884
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Royal Navy - H.M.S. Hydra, 1884

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Overall: 30.5cm (12in) x 38cm (15in)

 

Watercolour on paper. Portside view of the Cyclops-class breastwork monitor H.M.S. Hydra. Signed, dated and numbered ‘W. F. Mitchell / 1884’, ’329’ lower left. Image size: 15cm (6in) x 22cm (8.6in). Framed and glazed.

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.