Historic Painting: “Wreck of the HMS Orpheus” by Richard Brydges Beechey, 1868.


wreck of the hms orpheus by richard brydges beechey pd

You know I love nautical paintings, and so I was amazed to find this stunning picture by British painter Richard Brydges Beechey not, as I usually do for this series, by searching through various art commons sites on the Web, but by stumbling across it on Wikipedia’s page for historical events that happened on today’s date, February 7. The Wreck of the HMS Orpheus depicts exactly what happened 153 years ago today, on February 7, 1863, off Whatipu Beach in the northern part of New Zealand. The HMS Orpheus was the flagship of the British Royal Navy’s Australian Squadron, and the ship, launched two years earlier, was a product of that very curious period in naval and shipbuilding history that marked the transition from sail to steam. In addition to typical sails Orpheus also had a steam engine. Neither form of propulsion did the ship much good as she sailed amongst…

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