Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pitcairn Islands 2015
Pitcairn on Canvas

The Pitcairn Islands promoted paintings of the Island in the 1980s with two stamp issues released. Additional works have been found which also beautifully illustrate these earlier times. Thursday October Christian’s House by Conway Shipley (1824 – 1888) and Interior of Pitcairn by F.W. Beechey (1796 – 1856) were sourced from the National Library of Australia and came as light brown prints. To keep the stamps as a set and pleasant to the eye, the Philatelic Bureau instructed the artist to hand-colour the works which were approved by the Library.

Shipley’s work came from "Sketches in the Pacific, the South Sea Islands" and was completed around 1824. Beechey’s Interior came from a "Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait" and was drawn in 1830. Both the Interior work by Beechey and his dramatic painting of Landing in Bounty Bay are from the Rex Nan Kivell Collection. Landing in Bounty Bay was painted in 1830 and shows the power of the ocean as it pounds Pitcairn Island. This was first published in the "Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait" in London in 1830.

The fourth work ($2.00 stamp) is by the artist E. Low and was completed in or around 1808 and is the most interesting in terms of its inaccuracy. The painting shows Pitcairn with five peaks, including one with two trees and Adamstown as dominating one complete side of the Island. When challenged, the National Library of Australia responded as follows:

"In reference to your concerns as to the veracity of the location portrayed in this image - the painting has been titled as "Pitcairn" twice on the canvas by the artist, E. Low, who is also known to have painted another view of Pitcairn - so whilst the view may appear topologically incorrect to modern eyes, I think we may have to put this down to a combination of untrained perspective skills and artistic licence - the work would appear to have been painted from a boat/ship anchored out to sea and the challenge for any naive/amateur maritime artist to depict the island's coastline accurately and to scale would also have been compounded by wave motion".

stamps images and description thanks to: