HMS Nairana. Royal Navy Seaplane Carrier World War 1.
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fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting

Vincenzo D’Esposito

Italian ( b.1886 - d.1946 )

HMS Nairana. Royal Navy Seaplane Carrier World War 1.

  • Gouache on paper
  • Signed lower right

Image size 7.7 inches x 12.2 inches ( 19.5cm x 31cm )
Frame size 13.8 inches x 17.7 inches ( 35cm x 45cm )


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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art in the English county of Dorset, this original painting by the Italian artist Vincenzo D’Esposito dates from circa 1918.
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 non-reflective Tru Vue UltraVue® UV70 glass.
This antique piece is in superb condition. It wants for nothing and is supplied ready to hang and display.
The painting is signed lower right.

Vincenzo D’ Esposito was an Italian artist, active in the beginning of the twentieth century. He was a son of Gaetano de Esposito, an artist who lived in Malta. Vicenzo continued the work of his father and another brother, who all painted the various ships that sailed the Mediterranean in their time. Vincenzo D’Esposito is particularly known for his gouache pictures of British warships in Valetta harbour. It is likely that he received orders from merchant captains and naval officers who stopped in Valetta. Such works are now well sought after by British collectors.

The HMS Nairana, featured in this artwork, was a vessel with a particularly interesting history.
She was originally owned by the Australian shipping line Huddart Parker, who, in 1914, ordered her to be built in Dumbarton, Scotland by William Denny and Brothers. She was designed to be a passenger ship with some cargo capacity to serve in the Australian coastal trade. The name ‘Nairana’ is an Aboriginal name, meaning ‘Golden Eagle’ or ‘Eagle of the Sea’. She was launched in 1915 at the Denny shipyard in Dumbarton, Scotland. The launch had been delayed because of the diversion of shipping construction work to military vessels on the outbreak of the First World War. For the first year and a half of her life she remained at anchor. Then in 1917 she was purchased by the Royal Navy and converted into a combined landplane and seaplane carrier. After being commissioned the HMS Nairana was assigned to the Battle Cruiser Force of the Grand Fleet at Scarpa Flow, although she was mostly employed for pilot training and ferrying aircraft to ships equipped with flying-off decks.
In 1918 the HMS Nairana participated in the North Russia Campaign in support of the British intervention in the Russian Civil War, including taking part in what was probably the first fully combined air, sea and land military operation in history when she joined Allied ground forces and other ships in driving the Bolsheviks out of their fortifications on Modyugski Island at the mouth of the Northern Dvina River.
In May 1919 Nairana was refitted in Rosyth, then continued to support military operations in Russia until October that year, when she went to Devonport to be decommissioned.
Nairana was returned to her former owners in Australia in 1921 and refitted in her original planned configuration, and then spent the next 27 years ferrying passengers and cargo between Tasmania and Melbourne. She was twice struck by rogue waves in the Bass Strait and nearly capsized on both occasions. Nairana was the only Bass Strait ferry not requisitioned for military service in the Second World War, and so became the sole passenger ship with service to Tasmania during the conflict. She was laid up in 1948, wrecked in a storm three years later and scrapped in situ in 1953-54.
Throughout her career as a Bass Strait ferry, Nairana displayed a commemorative plaque and a photograph from her days as a carrier, presented by the British Admiralty in recognition of her service in the First World War. After she was retired the plaque went on display at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, New Zealand, and the photograph at the Launceston Maritime Museum, Tasmania.

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