Mutineers aboard Bounty turning Bligh, loyal officers and crew adrift

The Mutineers turning Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from His Majesty’s Ship Bounty.

Hand coloured aquatint engraving. B.B. Evans.


SKU SF000772 Category


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Description

One of the best known of all maritime images, and the only known portrait of Fletcher Christian. This aquatint was issued in October 1790, only a few months after the first printing of Bligh’s Narrative, at a time when interest in the events was building to a crescendo, and just before Bligh faced his own court martial for the loss of Bounty. Repeatedly reproduced, this is the rare original printing of the separately issued aquatint engraving showing one of the most infamous moments in maritime history Bligh and his men being cast adrift in the longboat. At the moment depicted, the painter of the longboat is still attached to the ship, and the four swords reluctantly allowed to the men in the longboat are about to be thrown to them. That Dodd’s sympathies lay with Bligh is made further evident in the caption, present here, which notes that the men in the open boat ‘sustained life under divine providence for 41 days’.

The mutiny on board Bounty took place on 28th April, 1789, and resulted in Bligh and 18 of his men being cast adrift. Their subsequent voyage to safety in the open boat covered more than 4000 miles of the Pacific one of the most arduous and famous of all voyages. The aquatint is of particular importance as it offers the only known portrait of Fletcher Christian, who is here seen standing on the stern of the ship, watching Bligh in the longboat. Glynn Christian has since noted that comparison of this print with the detailed plans of Bounty shows that Fletcher Christian is standing on the precise location of Bligh’s personal privy (Fragile Paradise, P. 58). Of the utmost importance is the fact that it is known that Bligh approved the original of this image, and he is even said to have helped Robert Dodd correct the likeness of most of the crewmen portrayed. As Dening notes, it is ‘accurate enough in many details for us to suspect that Dodd worked from eye witness descriptions. So maybe Christian wore a hat in the mutiny!…’ (Mr Bligh’s Bad Language, Cambridge, 1992, p. 54.)

Robert Dodd (1748 1816), a leading English marine painter, made several such fine naval aquatints, including the famous image of Guardian foundering on Christmas Eve 1789, and another of the dramatic conflict between the Spanish and the English at Nootka Sound in Northwest America.

 

Additional information
Date

1790

Author/Maker

Robert Dodd

Material

Pigment, Ink, Paper