Sailors sitting on a bowsprit

Stanfield's first appearance in this text is admirably suited to his own personal history (a sailor in the British merchant navy and then the Royal Navy) and abilities as a painter of seascapes. On the bowsprit of a sailing vessel, left, four sailors (two of them quite young) struggle to reef in the jibsheet. Beneath them, in the surf, is an anchor. On a rock darkling rising from the breakers an owl-like lighthouse stands, the small gulls indicating both its size and its distance from the ship (which we must imagine, for only the bowsprit and its five supporting stays are visible). The perilous scene is not allegorical but a visual realisation of a passage at the bottom the (left) facing page: "When mariners at sea, outlying upon icy yards, were tossed and swung above the howling ocean dreadfully. When the lighthouses, on rocks and headlands, showed solitary and watchful" (6). Perhaps Stanfield's point is that, as opposed to these sailors who brave the deep for merchants or in service of their nation, Redlaw has enjoyed a comparatively tranquil existence, despite a mysterious trauma in the past that has embittered him.

Again, the illustration encloses a few printed words, carrying the reader from the text preceding to the text after the plate.

Charles Dickens Clarkson Stanfield next

Last modified 19 October 2004