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    Cdr Eric Tufnell Rn. Hms Newcastle In Sydney Harbour,1956. Watercolour. Melbourne Olympics

    $1,200 or Make an Offer (approx conversion from £985)

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    About this item

    Commander Eric Erskine Campbell Tufnell RN
    English ( b.1888 - d.1979 ).
    HMS Newcastle in Sydney Harbour, December 1956.
    UK Squadron attending 1956 Olympics, Melbourne, Australia
    Watercolour on Paper. Signed.
    Image size 9.8 inches x 14.2 inches ( 25cm x 36cm ).
    Frame size 20.3 inches x 24.2 inches ( 51.5cm x 61.5cm ).

    Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art in the English county of Dorset, this original painting is by Commander Eric Erskine Campbell Tufnell RN and dates from 1956.
    The painting is presented and supplied in a sympathetic and contrasting contemporary frame to suit the subject colouration (which is shown in these photographs) , and behind premium anti-reflective glass with UV Protection greater than 70% (Artglass AR 70™).
    This vintage watercolour is in superb condition. It wants for nothing and is supplied ready to hang and display.
    The painting is signed lower right and titled lower left.

    This painting brings together both a legendary ship and a highly experience Naval Officer, who between them saw a very significant amount of historic military activity in the mid-twentieth century.

    Commander Eric Erskine Campbell Tufnell was a respected painter of ships in watercolour.
    He was born on 9th September 1888 at Bangalore in India. He joined HMS Britannia as a cadet in 1903 and went to sea as a midshipman in 1904. He served in submarines from 1909-1917 and then in anti-submarine work until 1919. He commanded several small ships in the Eastern Mediterranean and served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1926-30. In 1938 he was recalled to the Navy for meteorological work in Columbo and left Ceylon in 1942, soon after the Japanese attack. He then took up an appointment to the Naval Information Services, where he served until his retirement in 1946. 

    Although he received no formal art training, his knowledge of the seas and skies proved of great help to him in his painting. His water-colours have often been on show at the Parker Gallery in London. He lived his later years at Farnham in Surrey and was still actively painting in his late 80s.

    © Big Sky Fine Art

    This exquisite watercolour painting depicts the ship HMS Newcastle in Sydney Harbour in December 1956. It portrays a magnificent view of the entire starboard side of the ship in front of the iconic Sydney Harbour steel arch through bridge, nicknamed the “coat hanger”, which spans Sydney Harbour from the central business district to the North Shore.

    The significance of this image is that HMS Newcastle had been part of a squadron attending the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. She was present in Sydney Harbour at this time because she was refuelling there before travelling back to Singapore. 

    The precision and detail on this painting makes it appear almost as a photograph, and it is clear that it has been created by an artist who has a thorough understanding of his subject. For Commander Tufnell, this work was a tribute to a ship that was practically a legend.

    HMS Newcastle was constructed by Vickers Armstrong and John Brown & Company as part of the 1933 Construction Programme for the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1936 and commissioned in 1937. She joined the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, part of the Home Fleet and took part in the Coronation Fleet Review in 1937. Newcastle was under refit at the outbreak of the Second World War, then joined the 18th Cruiser Squadron, taking an active part in trade protection duties, enforcing the merchant blockade of Germany.

    In 1940 Newcastle had another refit before detachment to Plymouth to guard against a potential German invasion, encountering German destroyers in the Channel. In 1940 Newcastle transported 200 RAF personnel and a cargo of aircraft spare parts to Malta, then took part in Operation Collar, escorting a convoy of merchant ships from Gibraltar to Malta and Egypt, then taking part in the Battle of Cape Spartivento. Newcastle then travelled to the South Atlantic to search for a German cruiser, remaining at sea 133 days, with 109 days out of sight of land, a record for Royal Navy warships during the Second World War. After a brief refit in South Africa Newcastle returned to commerce protection duties in the South Atlantic, captured a French merchant ship and scuttled a German blockade. In 1941 she was refitted again in Boston, United States, with further modification at Devonport dockyard in Britain, then left to join the Eastern Fleet, becoming the flagship of the 4th Cruiser Squadron. 

    In 1942 Newcastle was loaned to the Mediterranean Fleet to take part in Operation Vigorous, during which she was torpedoed, but claimed a share in shooting down four enemy aircraft. The damage from this encounter and subsequent damage from heavy seas was repaired at Aden, and later Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York. 

    Newcastle then worked up at Scapa Flow before re-joining the Eastern Fleet at Kenya, resuming her role as flagship of the 4th Cruiser Squadron. She continued to be employed on commerce protection duties as well as attempting to intercept supply ships used for the replenishment of German U-boats. She took part in Operation Player in the Indian Ocean. Following another refit Newcastle took part in a dramatic search for a German U-boat and Operations Cockpit, Transom and Robson. 

    From 1945 Newcastle was involved in direct support for the British Fourteen Army in their campaigns in Burma. After the end of the Second World War Newcastle was decommissioned and used as a troopship, then recommissioned in 1947 to join the Mediterranean Fleet. She was decommissioned again in 1949, but after extensive modernisation at Devonport Newcastle went on to serve again in the Korean War and the Malayan Emergency.

    Newcastle was finally decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1959, and subsequently broken up at Faslane.

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    Additional Information




    W: 61.5cm  (24.2")H: 51.5cm  (20.3")D: 2.5cm  (1")


    Mid 20th Century



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    Big Sky Fine Art

    Dorset, United Kingdom

    Big Sky Fine Art is an UK company based on the beautiful Jurassic coast of Dorset and is owned and managed by Jane and Barrie Jones. We offer a carefully curated collection of original fine art, mainly British in origin. We aim to showcase and sell good quality art in an honest, unpretentious way...