The Ocean Rover was built in 1854 by Tobey & Littlefield in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It measured 162 feet in length, 43 feet in beam, 23 feet in depth of hold, and 777 tons. Under the command of Captain McLauren F. Pickering, it participated in the trans-Atlantic cotton trade. In 1863 it was sold to owners in Salem, Massachusetts. Later, around 1868, it was sold to a Captain Carlton. On July 18, 1870 it struck a reef in the River Jeganna, Pernambucco, Brazil.
The painting shows the Ocean Rover entering an unidentified English port. There is a storm, and the crew has been ordered aloft to reef the sails so the captain could gain better control of the ship. There is some floating wreckage to the left. In the background towards the left, there is a wooded coast with a church and other buildings.
W. Webb was a British marine painter active from 1860-1895. According to the British marine painting authority A.S. Davidson, W. Webb commonly used Dover as the background in his paintings, although the background of this painting is different than the one usually used. Webb portrayed English sailing vessels exclusively. There is a suspicion that Webb may have been a pseudonym used by Spencer. The water in the painting is similar to Spencer's style.
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