Painting of British Men-o'-War off the Cape of Good Hope
Painted by Thomas Witcombe, 1817.

This painting hung in at Linley Wood, Talke, Staffordshire, probably from 1824 until 1949.

In 1925 this painting was listed by Maj Gen Frederick Crofton Heath-Caldwell as hanging in the Hall of Linley Wood as follows: "Painting of Cape Town Harbour.  This painting belonged to Mr Marsh and was left at Linley Wood for safe keeping".

This painting was sold in the Sotheby auction of 2 November 1949 as lot 88 described as follows: By T Whitcombe.  British Men-o'-War off the Cape of Good Hope, signed "T. Whitcomb" and dated 1817.  27 ½ inch by 42 inch. 

The Mr Marsh, refered to by Frederick, was probably his grandfather Arthur Marsh whose father was William Marsh.  William was a banker who did a lot of business with the Navy and may have come across this picture through his Navy connections.  The date of 1817 was the year that Arthur married and so the picture was probably a wedding present.  Unfortunately in 1824 the family banking firm of "Marsh, Sibbald and Co" fell, bankrupting William Marsh and also ruining Arthur Marsh.  It may be that Arthur deposited the painting at Linley Wood, around this time, to avoid it being taken by the bank's creditors.

Thomas Whitcombe specialised in painting ships.  He lived circa 1752-1827.  It would appear that he painted quite a few variations of sailing ships with the Cape of Good Hope in the background.

If anyone on the web knows where this painting now hangs, I would be very interested to hear from you.  Please contact me at jj@jjhc.info

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