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Surf boats, Madras

Surf boats, Madras

Artist: Chinnery, George (1774-1852)

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1807

Shelfmark: WD147

Item number: 147

Length: 18.4

Width: 27.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pen-and-ink and wash drawing of surf boats at Madras, dated c.1807. Inscribed on back in ink is: 'The Massoolee Boats going through the surf at Madras. A sketch by Mr Chinnery. To Mrs Phillips from her affec. Br. A.C.'; in pencil: 'Bought at H.W. Phillips' sale, Christie's. 8 April, 1869.'

Madras, situated on the south-east coast of India, receives a double monsoon from the east between July and September and from the west between October and December. When Fort St George was established as the earliest fortified settlement of the East India Company in 1640 it was completely unprotected from the sea until the construction of a protected harbour in the late 19th century; ships had to anchor in the roads and land their passengers and cargoes by means of small boats. Simple wooden boats called masula were used to transport people and goods through the heavy surf and then boatsmen would carry the passengers ashore on their shoulders.

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