John Cleveley The Elder (British, Active 1747-1792): Portrait of the Frigate H.M.S. Pallas in Three Views. Extremely fine painting in excellent condition. Signed and dated lower left "J. Clevely, 1769. Oil on canvas, 34-7/8" x 53-1/8.
Provenance: In the same family for three generations (more than 100 years).
John Cleveley (1712--1777) often portrayed a vessel from two or three different vantage points in similar format. Born in Southwark, Clevely apprenticed as a joiner and worked as a carpenter or shipwright at the Royal Dockyard, Deptford, London, which he frequently depicted in his paintings. He became a professional painter in the late 1740's. Cleveley's knowledge of shipbuilding was evident in the architectural detail and accuracy of the ships in his paintings.
The H.M.S. Pallas was a 5th Rate Ship (36 guns, 728 tons), launched at Deptford in 1757, the flagship of a new class of Frigates designed for speed and maneuverability to counter the perceived superiority of the French naval cruisers. The Pallas had a 26-year career that included service off the coasts of France and England, the Mediterranean, West Africa, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, before returning to England in 1783. During the voyage, she encountered heavy seas and developed several leaks, eventually running aground in the Azores. After an inspection of her condition, Captain Christopher parker ordered the Pallas burned because she was rotted and damaged beyond repair.