Royal Navy Midshipman
in the Rigging
Watercolor Ca 1785

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ROYAL NAVY MIDSHIPMAN IN THE RIGGING Ca 1785


Presented is a watercolor on card portrait of a Royal Navy midshipman standing
in the rigging of a sailing warship. He is dressed in the traditional garb of the period in a brass buttoned blue jacket over
a white shirt with striped neckerchief. In the background a three masted sailing ship is heeled over in the process of sinking.
The picture is framed in wonderful Birdseye maple. Based on similar paintings by Thomas Rowland and Fane’s Nelson, we date
this work in the last quarter of the 18th Century.

SIZE framed: 14 3/4″ x 11″. Viewing area 10 1/2″x 6 3/4″.

Weight 1 pound.

Back of work

Fane’s Midshipman Nelson, 1774 midshipman is a cadet officer, or alternatively the lowest ranking commissioned
officer, in the navies of several English-speaking countries. During the days of sailing vessels, from the 17th through the 19th centuries, a midshipman was an apprentice officer. The word derives from the location of ship, amidships, where they were berthed. The midshipman
used to serve seven years In the lower rank before being eligible to sit for a lieutenant’s exam. As a middie, he was roughly
equivalent to a senior petty officer in rank, but was a commissioned officer. During the 19th century training of Naval officers in both the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy changed toward formal schooling in a Naval college as opposed to apprenticeship aboard ships. In the modern Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and the Royal New Zealand Navy non-graduates join as Midshipman, while those with a university degree join as a sub-lieutenant.

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