|Lithograph with original hand colouring
|after Dr. Edward Hodges Cree
|Dickinson & Co. Lith. London [c.1850]
|Image 354 x 540 mm
A rare and important depiction of the destruction of a pirate fleet in the South China Sea, from a series of lithographs after original watercolours by the naval surgeon Dr Hodges Cree. The scene shows part of the combined British and Chinese effort to capture the notorious pirate Shap Ng-Tsai, who commanded a piratical fleet of at least 70 vessels, and terrorised the sea-coasts and shipping lanes south of Hong Kong. Through extortion, protection rackets, ransom, and outright piracy, Shap Ng-Tsai became such a menace to the Chinese government that, having repeatedly avoided attempts at capture, he was offered a pardon and a military commission. These overtures were refused, and his piratical career continued until he was implicated in the sinking of a British squadron carrying opium in 1849. The British, with assistance from a number of Qing vessels, eventually tracked the pirates to the coast of Vietnam, where most of the pirate fleet was destroyed. Shap Ng-Tsai escaped the battle, and eventually accepted a pardon, joining the Qing navy as an officer.
Inscription below image reads: Attack on, and Destruction of, Part of the Pirate Squadron of Shap-ng-Tsai, in the Gulf of Tonkin, on the 21st. of October, 1849. By Her Majesty's Sloop, Columbine, J.C. Dalrymple Hay Esq.r Comm.r, H.M.Steam Sloop, Fury, J.Wilcox, Esq.r Comm.r & Hon. E.I.Co's hired Armed Steam Vessel Phlegethon,
Dr. Edward Hodges Cree (1814-1901) was a British Navy surgeon, whose extensive journals, now in the collection of the Royal Museums Greenwich, are an invaluable first-hand account of British naval life in the nineteenth century. Between 1837 and 1861, Hodges Cree travelled extensively on a dozen different Royal Navy vessels. His accounts of events in the Far East are particularly enlightening, and he was an eye witness to the First Opium War and conflicts with the pirates of the South China Sea. The end of his career with the Navy coincided with the Crimean War, and he was present at the Fall of Sebastopol in 1855. Aside from his commentaries, Hodges Cree was also a prolific artist, and his journals preserve over fifteen hundred original illustrations.
Condition: Overall time toning and slight fading to original hand colouring, repaired tear to left near the mast of the ship. Framed in its original period frame.