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The S. S. INDIAN EMPIRE was a steel-hulled 3 masted barque launched in 1886. A general cargo boat, she was involved in the Chilean nitrate trade in the early twentieth century. A rudder mishap stranded the ship on Hermite Island off Cape Horn in 1912 and the ship consequently became wrecked.

The artist, Reginald Arthur Borstel (1875-1922) has become known as the doyen of Australian "pierhead" painters, who produced ship portraits and on-sold them to the crews of the ships.

He began his life as an artist in Newcastle , N.S.W. and by the beginning of the century had moved to Sydney. Most of his work in Sydney was on behalf of two companies and he produced many paintings.

This particular picture is signed by Borstel on the bottom left which could indicate that it predates his move to Sydney or in his early Sydney years without the support of an intermediary agent. The ship visited Sydney in 1906 and this is the most probable date of the painting.

Oil on studio board.

450 x 610 mm.

Signed bottom left.

S. S. INDIAN EMPIRE. Reginald Arthur Borstel. Oil.

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