HMS Sheldrake was one of the hundreds of small warships used by the Royal Navy for inshore patrols, conveying merchant ships, and hunting slavers, pirates and privateers. She was a 16-gun brig built in 1806, and sold in 1816.
In 1811, Sheldrake under Commander James P. Stewart distinguished herself. Serving in the Baltic against the Danes, she fought gunboats four times and captured or destroyed five. To finish off the year she took a French privateer. Stewart was promoted to Captain for his good work.
Stewart may well have spent some of his new pay and prize money to have Salmon paint the ship that brought him luck and a promotion.
Salmon shows Sheldrake at her best with “stunsails” set to windward on the fore and main masts. With the wind from near astern, she sports a gaff topsail above her fore-and-aft mainsail where a light “ ringtail” has been set at the after side of the main. A single masted naval cutter is visible under the bow.
Salmon went to Greenock, Scotland in April 1811, so this painting was either done there or in Liverpool.
Oil on wood