ProvenanceThe ship’s portrait was completed by South Australian artist Frederick Dawson, 1898. Dawson worked as a marine artist from the 1890s to the 1920s. For a period he taught art in Port Adelaide and captured some of the most significant traders and ketches working in local coastal waters. The museum owns an extensive collection of portraits by Dawson. The portrait is part of the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum Collection. Established in 1872, the Nautical Museum Collection is the oldest maritime collection in Australia. It represents the Port Adelaide community, businesses and seafarers - some returning home from abroad and others passing through. Formerly located in the museum of the Port Adelaide Institute, established 1851, it was part of the 19th century movement for self-education that led to the establishment of public libraries, schools and museums. The collection is now held by the South Australian Maritime Museum.SignificanceAn early work by Frederick Dawson, and rare for his use of oil paint. Dawson painted many ships portraits and most of those were watercolours. The subject of the painting is the 'SS Adelaide', part of the fleet of the Adelaide Steamship Company, formed in1875 by pastoralists and businessmen in South Australia to facilitate the movement of goods between Australian ports. It became Australia's largest shipping enterprise. Company ships touched almost every Australian port and were famous for their comfort and modernity.
The ‘SS Adelaide’ was built in 1883 for the Adelaide Steamship Co Ltd by D & W Henderson & Co, Glasgow, Scotland and arrived in Port Adelaide in 1884. The ship boasted accommodation for 150 first class passengers, space for 1000 tons of mixed cargo, and was fitted out with the latest mod cons including electric light installed by the Edison Electric Light Company.DescriptionOil painting depicts the 'SS Adelaide' in rough seas. The ship has a black hull with white topsides and flies the red ensign. It has two masts with foreand aft rig and a single funnel with a large plume of black smoke. Figures are visible on the deck. The masts of another sailing ship, rigged as a three masted barque, are in the background, the hull hidden behind a large wave. The painting is signed 'Dawson 1898' in lower left hand corner and two sea birds are painted in lower right. The painting is signed by marine artist Frederick Dawson, 1898.Creator (person)Frederick DawsonDate of Creation1898Date of UsageAccession NumberHT 2018.0608