FLEET REVIEW 1911 - HM YACHT VICTORIA & ALBERT LEAVES PORTSMOUTH FOR THE CORONATION REVIEW LINES

Wood, Frank Watson (1862-1953). Watercolour heightened with white, dated June 24th 1911, signed "Frank Wood" (LR) and inscribed "Day of Coronation Review June 24th 1911" and further inscribed (LC) "Harbour Station, Portsmouth".

FLEET REVIEW 1911 - HM YACHT VICTORIA & ALBERT LEAVES PORTSMOUTH FOR THE CORONATION REVIEW LINES

Standard size: 30.5 x 6.25 inches (77.5 x 15.8 cms) approx.

Price is available upon request

This original has been sold and is no longer available.

This watercolour, recently discovered at a London auction house, fits neatly into a pattern of Frank Wood’s works that aimed, it seems, to capture all the great British ceremonial maritime events and nautical pageants that were the colourful backdrop to much of the early-mid 20th century. Already possessing his watercolour of the 1911 Coronation Review itself (see MP 157), Maritime Originals were delighted to be able to obtain this original painting of the prelude to that 1911 Review, – the King sailing from South Railway Jetty, Portsmouth in the Royal Yacht some 20 minutes before entering the review lines out in the Solent where 165 vessels were lying at anchor to pay their respects to the new King Emperor. Wood continued this practise and Maritime Prints also has a similar set of watercolours of his showing the Royal Yacht sailing from the same spot in Portsmouth before the 1937 Review (see MP 044) and three of her in the review lines themselves (see MP 045, 137 and 195) as well as HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS HOOD and HMS ROYAL OAK back alongside in Portsmouth after that 1937 Review (MP 046); and an original of the harbour painted from around HMS VERNON's foreshaw, looking north up the harbour with WARSPITE and QUEEN ELIZABETH again: an excursion paddle steamer is in the foreground.
 
The Royal Train had carried Their Majesties with Household in Attendance from Waterloo station to Portsmouth and had then trundled over the railway pontoon which carried the line in a sweeping curve out into the harbour and directly to South Railway Jetty which lay at the southern end of the naval base at its closet point to Portsmouth Harbour railway station. South Railway Jetty is still very much there though the railway line linking it to the station has long since gone, only a few isolated parts of the structure being identifiable projecting from the mud at low water. The station – with some very recognisable features that are clear to this day - is painted towards the left of the scene where a couple of Southern Railway’s shiny locomotives, wreathed in smoke and steam are sitting at platforms: the Royal Train is not to be seen but the stationmaster will have had his station buffed up anyway!

Court Flags were broken as the King embarked in the Royal Yacht (Captain N C Palmer MVO ADC RN, Commodore 2nd Class, In Charge His Majesty’s Yachts) and shortly afterwards the 16 flag officers whose flagships were anchored out at Spithead were presented to His Majesty: C-in-C Portsmouth and C-in-C Home Fleet were appointed GCVO . Between the station and the Yacht Frank Wood shows us Nelson’s old flagship, HMS VICTORY, now proudly wearing the flag of C-in-C Portsmouth, Admiral Sir Arthur Moore: it was to be a further 10 years before VICTORY would be moved in from her harbour anchorage to a dry dock within the naval base itself.

History tells us that 24th June was a cool, grey summer’s day but that the weather was not sufficient to dampen the size of the crowds who gathered both along the Hard at Portsmouth by the main entrance to the Naval Base and at all vantage points from there seawards. The watercolour shows the Yacht when she had just slipped from her berth, dockyard tugs in attendance to help with a gentle pull here or a kissing nudge there (always the Yacht’s immaculately glossy flanks had to be preserved!).  She is just beginning to pick up way as she heads serenely down harbour, past the Gosport ferry pontoon, Camber, Old Portsmouth’s waterfront with its balconied and terraced houses, pubs and viewing points, through the narrow, walled entrance of the harbour.   The she would be out and passing the Round Tower and great ramparts to port which guard the entrance to the harbour and look out to seawards across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and Spithead where the great fleet lay at anchor. Across the harbour the Gosport waterfront would have been lined as well with thousands of people who had come to witness the spectacle and see something of their navy which was daily, it seemed, being further augmented by the addition of another new dreadnought battleship or cruiser, a further submarine, a new class of Torpedo Boat Destroyer. As VICTORIA & ALBERT, led by the Trinity House flagship and followed by the Admiralty Yacht ENCHANTRESS with the Board of Admiralty embarked, entered the review lines, another Royal Salute thundered out. The Coronation Review was underway!