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A glimpse into the past

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Stunning imagery: Boss’s Cove in Pembroke, as captured in this painting from 1873 which is part of the album donated to the National Museum

An historic album of spectacular watercolour paintings of Bermuda dating back nearly 150 years has been donated to the National Museum.

The pictures by Alice Fanshawe — who was on the Island while her father Sir Edward Fanshawe was the Admiral of the North America and West Indies Station — had previously been kept in a family chest in the UK.

However, the album, which contains a total of 24 watercolours including eight scenes from across the Island, was returned to Bermuda last week by a donor.

Ms Fanshawe lived in Admiralty House, or Clarence Hill, in western Pembroke with her family and painted many watercolours of that property, especially the gardens. She also travelled further afield to capture the striking view over Sinky Bay and Hunt’s Bay in Southampton, which is now part of The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.

The painting depicting Boss’s Cove in Pembroke shows a couple of buildings standing, as well as the structure at the mouth of Mill Creek that may be the mill house itself. The grinding wheels of the mill were powered by the ebb and flow of the tide into that bay.

The album also includes views over the town of Port Royal from Craighton in Jamaica, where Admiral Fanshawe and his family would visit in the winter.

In the summers, the Royal Navy fleet would head north for cooler climates and Ms Fanshawe painted on the Hudson and at Quebec and Halifax, the latter being the north base for the North America and West Indies Station.

Edward Harris, director of the museum, praised the donor for the gift of the album to Bermuda.

Dr Harris said: “It is a significant addition to the collection of images of Bermuda at a time when photography was in its infancy.

“As such, the paintings capture a number of scenes of the Island in the 1870s in colour, many years before colour photography came into current use.

“We are very grateful to the donor for the generous donation of the paintings, which will eventually be made widely available to the public through a book on three generations of Fanshawes who were in Bermuda in the 1820s and 1870s.”

Perfect scene: View over Sinky Bay, Southampton Parish, in 1872