The Sailor Boy’s Return from a Prosperous Voyage

The sailor boy’s return from a prosperous voyage, 1792
William Redmore Bigg (1755-1828)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 02351
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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The Sailor Boy’s Return from a Prosperous Voyage

Bigg studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1778. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1780-1827, showing mainly rustic subjects centred around village life. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1814. Bigg’s greatest delight was in painting children and he produced many small portraits. Several of his paintings were made into prints, including this one, which was paired with another painting by Bigg of 1790 entitled A Shipwreck’d Sailor Boy Telling His Story at a Cottage Door. There were three versions of the prints and the last had this poem attached.

The Sailor Boy’s Return
‘Twas at that Season when the fields resume
Their loveliest hues array’d in Vernal bloom;
Yon ship rich-freighted from the Italian shore,
To Thames’ fair banks her costly tribute bore,
While thus my Mother saw her ample hoard,
From this Return, with recent treasures stord.’

The Shipwrecked Sailor Boy
‘While memory dictates, this sad shipwreck tell,
And what distress thy wretched friend befell;
Then, while in streams of soft compassion drown’d:
The swains lament, & maidens weep around;
While lisping children, touch’d with infant fear,
With wonder gaze, & drop th’unconscious tear.’

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