A Packet Boat Under Sail in a Breeze off the South Foreland

A Packet Boat Under Sail in a Breeze off the South Foreland

1780
Thomas Luny
Oil on canvas
33 3/8 × 57 inches (84.8 × 144.8 cm)

The large cutter in stern view at center, towing a boat, is probably a packet, running official postal and passenger service on a regular route. The large ship’s boat in the right foreground carries men who are raising its anchor (or recovering one). This is the roadstead off Walmer and Deal, between the east Kent coast and the Goodwin Sands, which was the main sailing anchorage and rendezvous between the Thames and the English Channel. A Royal Navy two-decker at far right flies the flag (red at the fore) of a Vice Admiral of the Red, possibly as senior officer stationed there. The South Foreland light is prominent on the chalk cliffs, with Dover Castle seen above those further west, at far left. An original inscription on the back reads “South Foreland / View of the Downs.”

B1981.25.434
Signed and dated, lower left: "T. Luny 1780"
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection