Painting, Wool Clipper Ship Parramatta

Parramatta was built in 1866 by James Laing in Sutherland, England for Devitt and Moore's passenger trade run to Sydney, Australia. The ship measured 231 feet in length and 1,521 tons. According to an inscription on the back of the painting, the ship was one of the wool fleet from 1875-1876, going from Sydney to London in 79 days. Captain J. Swanson commanded the ship until 1874, when Captain Goddard took over until the ship’s sale in 1888 to J. Simonsen of Norway. In January 1898, Parramatta sailed from Galveston, TX headed for King's Lynn, Norfolk, England and disappeared along the way. Parramatta was a Blackwall frigate. Blackwall frigates were three-masted merchant ships originally built to replace British East Indiamen in the trade between England and India. However, many Blackwell frigates, including Paramatta, became active in the trade between England and Australia. It was the second fastest of the Blackwall frigates after the Tweed. The painting shows Parramatta off Sydney Heads, Australia with a view of the coastline in the background. A small flight of steps and some women can be seen on deck. The presence of women is indicative of the Parramatta as a passenger ship, as a group of women would likely not have been on a trading voyage. Other details about the ship include the use of davits to hold up the lifeboats, where earlier they would have been merely tied to ropes and lowered over the side. Leather strips called "brails" used to shorten the sails can be seen running across the sails, and the flags on the lifeboat match the house flag located on the mainmast. Artist Frederick Tudgay (1841-1921) was youngest in a family of marine artists. He and his father, John Tudgay, occasionally worked in collaboration.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, oil
date made
Tudgay, Frederick
Physical Description
oil on canvas (overall material)
without frame: 26 in x 42 1/2 in; 66.04 cm x 107.95 cm
with frame: 31 1/4 in x 47 3/4 in; 79.375 cm x 121.285 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Cigna Maritime Collection
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cigna Maritime Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

11/4/2014 9:33:57 PM
Judy White
I was delighted to find this beautiful painting and accompanying description of Parramatta. I am currently transcribing the diary of my Great Grandmother who travelled on Parramatta as a young woman, when her family emigrated from England to Australia. They left England on August 29th. 1895. An excerpt near the end of the journey: "We have a splendid breeze again. The sailors have commenced to clean and paint the ship to go into Harbour. The sea is covered with white horses and all around the ship is hissing and boiling. The Parramatta looks for all the world as if she smelt Sydney. the breeze has freshened into a gale & down comes nearly all the sail". To see an image of the ship, brings her diary to life. sincerely Judy White
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