Figurehead of yacht 'Sunbeam' (1874) by unknown

Figurehead of yacht 'Sunbeam' (1874)


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Figurehead of yacht 'Sunbeam' (1874) by unknown zoom

Figurehead of yacht 'Sunbeam' (1874)

Gold-painted half-length figurehead of Thomas Brassey's steam yacht 'Sunbeam' ,1874, representing a female angel, looking upwards and forwards with hands crossed on the breast. It is based on Brassey's daughter Constance Alberta, whose nickname was 'Sunbeam'. Born on 18 February 1868 she died of scarlet fever, aged four, on 24 January 1873 and the 531-ton luxury yacht, launched the following year, commemorates her in both its name and with the figurehead. Brassey (1836-1918), son of Thomas senior the railway contractor, was a Liberal politican with a particular interest in naval matters. He was Civil Lord of the Admiralty in 1880-84 and governor of Victoria, Australia, 1895-1900. Knighted in 1881 he became a baron in 1886, the year he inaugurated the celebrated 'Brassey's Naval Annual', and Earl Brassey in 1911. His wife Annie (1839-87) was a passionate traveller and a writer on travelling, whose best-selling 'Voyage of the Sunbeam' (1878) records their 11-month family voyage round the world in 1876-77. As HM Yacht 'Liberty', 'Sunbeam' was later used as a hospital ship in the First World War: Norman Wilkinson's painting of her in this role was formerly on loan to the Museum (BHC3449).

  • Image reference: D6046-2

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