The great sailing ships were built for speed and their fearless captains drove them with every inch of sail, as hard as their straining masts could take. Capable of making 400 miles in a day, they were the culmination of the age of sail.
Built in 1886, Falls of Halladale was a magnificent four-masted barque belonging to the Falls Line of Glasgow. Built with a sail plan that was easily handled by a small crew she, and her sister ships of the Falls Line, had all the latest design features. Her snug rig allowed her to press on in heavy weather as long as her gear would stand, minimizing sail handling and the dangers that this brought to the crew. Over 250 feet in Falls of length, these iron and steel vessels regularly took water across their decks, even in ordinary conditions, but the innovative fore and aft lifting bridges vastly reduced the danger of men being swept overboard.
Robert’s classic painting portrays Falls of Halladale putting into Liverpool in 1903 – her subsequent voyage to San Francisco shortly afterwards nearly brought about her end. In attempting to sail around Cape Horn she met such ferocious weather that she blew out nineteen sails, sprang numerous leaks forcing most hands to the pumps, and had her fore and aft bridges smashed. Captain Johnson’s decision to turn about and take the long around-world route past Cape of Good Hope instead brought about a mutiny. When she finally arrived in San Francisco 238 days out of Liverpool, with the ringleader secured in irons, she was a sorry sight.
Each print has been signed by the artist.