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Junk off the coast of Hong Kong, 1930

Thomas George Purvis

English ( b.1861 - d.1933 )

Junk off the coast of Hong Kong, 1930

  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed & dated 1930 lower left

Image size 8.6 inches x 13.6 inches ( 22cm x 34.5cm )
Frame size 13.2 inches x 18.1 inches ( 33.5cm x 46cm )

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Sold by Big Sky Fine Art; this original oil painting by Thomas Purvis dated 1930.
The painting is presented and supplied in a sympathetic and contrasting contemporary frame to suit the subject colouration. The painted surface has benefitted from cleaning and conservation, which took place in 2014 on our instructions.

A knowledgeable sea captain and popular marine artist, Thomas George Purvis was born in Chirton, Northumberland on 12th April 1861. He was an only child; his maternal grandfather was a master mariner and his father was a chandler. The young Purvis went to sea as an apprentice and worked his way up to obtain his Master’s certificate in 1887. He became an experienced sailor, spending two and a half years on the Arabella and travelling to Australia on the clipper La Escocesa.

In 1886 Thomas Purvis married Grace Dodgin, the eldest daughter of Charles William Dodgin, a shipbuilder and marine engineer. For a while he found employment delivering new small steamships to South America, but then gave this up in 1891 to become a full time marine artist.

From this time to the outbreak of the First World War he was a prolific and popular painter of sailing ships and steamers. As one who clearly understood the sea and the art of sailing he received many commissions from Captains of ships from all over Europe. He preferred to paint ships in the open sea and executed detailed works of some of the largest sailing ships which ever crossed to oceans.

By 1888, when his oldest son, Tom, was born, Purvis was living in Bristol and in early 1894 the family moved to Cardiff where he for a time also ran a photographic studio. They later moved to Blackheath, London, where his son started at Camberwell School of Art around 1904. Purvis exhibited regularly between 1900 and 1910.

By the outbreak of the First World War, the great sailing ships Purvis loved to paint were in decline. In 1915 he moved to the Far East, leaving his family behind and took employment as mate or master of various steamships, until at least 1925. He also continued to paint, and this example of a junk in Hong Kong Harbour was painted there in 1930.
Purvis died on 17th January 1933 after an accident.

He left five children, all of whom showed artistic talent. The eldest, Tom, became one of the most distinguished and distinctive 20th century poster artists.

Today Purvis’ works are held in many private collections, the National Library of Wales and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

This original oil on canvas work depicts a large wooden sailing vessel, known as a junk, in full sail in Hong Kong Harbour. There are figures of the crew on deck, wearing Asian rice hats, and the vessel is reflected in the sea beneath. In the background, we see the coastline with mountains, and a steamship at anchor. The palette is of soft links and greys, with the sky a purple haze.