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Art Marine

The Clipper Arial at Sunset - Roy Cross RSMA

The Clipper Arial at Sunset - Roy Cross RSMA

One of the most famous clippers of her time, ‘Ariel’ was launched at the yard of Robert Steele & Company, Greenock in 1865 with a composite hull of timber planking over iron frames.

She had the accolade of taking part in the unofficial ‘Great Tea Race’ of 1866 which attracted payment of a premium for the first shipment of the season of tea to arrive at the London docks. The 99-day and almost 16,000-mile journey from Foochow involving 4 clippers ended with ‘Ariel’ and ‘Taeping ’ within sight of each other the full length of the English Channel and into the Thames. ‘Taeping’ reached the London docks barely 20 minutes sooner than ‘Ariel’ by her drawing less water in the shallow river estuary.

In keeping with the narrowness of the victory, the owner's prize of 10/- per ton and the captain’s prize were shared between both ships. The advent of steamships and the subsequent opening of the Suez Canal made tea races unnecessary and ‘Ariel’ plied her trade on the route to Australia carrying general cargo outbound and wool on the return journey. It was on the voyage from London to Sydney that left on 31st January 1872 that ‘Ariel’ was lost, never arriving in Sydney and presumed ‘pooped’ somewhere in the Southern Ocean after rounding the Cape of Good Hope.

Original painting in acrylic 

Image size: 30 x 22 inches. Signed lower right.

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