The William Ritson was built at Maryport, Cumberland, England in 1864 by Ritson, a merchant family in Whitehaven. It measured 164 feet in length and 680 tons. The ship was owned by F. Johnston and Company and was registered at Mayport until 1884. Ownership passed to Kayton and Simpson until 1890, when the ship was sold to Argentinean owners. Shortly after that, in 1891 it was sold again and renamed Hiram. It was broken up in 1905. The painting depicts the William Ritson under full sail, heading into a harbor. The port side of the ship is shown with the bow tilted upward. The ship is calling for a pilot. Also pictured in the background are Skerries lighthouse and Anglesey. The painting has been variously attributed to either J. Scott (1840-1872) or Samuel Walters (1811-1882). See CIGNA catalogue entry for details.
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