Figuehehad of the Palinurus
© National Maritime Museum
Photo: © National Maritime Museum
Figurehead of the barque 'Palinurus', in the form of a full-length polychrome painted male figure, including feet, in formal dress of about 1830. He holds a hunting-sword or cutlass transversely above his head with his extended right arm, as if parrying a blow.
H65 x W61 x D53.3 cms
Accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of Estate Duty in 1979 from Robert Arthur Dorien-Smith. The collection was begun by Augustus Smith (1806-72) who leased the islands from the Duchy of Cornwall. The figureheads in the Valhalla Collection came from vessels wrecked on Scilly.
The ‘Palinurus’ went onto the Lion Rock, off the north of St Martin’s, while inward bound from Demerara in 1848. All her crew of 17 were drowned, eventually washed ashore and buried on St Mary’s. The first alarm was raised by cattle frightened out of their field by the noise of the vessel’s sails flapping and tearing in the wind. Local people managed to save some of her cargo: 14 hogsheads and 71 puncheons of spirits, and 9 quarter-casks of rum were brought ashore. ‘Palinurus’ is the name of the helmsman of Achilles in Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’. ‘Polinarus’, the traditional local name for the piece, is understandable but incorrect. Owner: Embleton. Registered voyage: Demerara to London. Cargo: rum and other spirits. Master at loss: Allen or Gorl. Wrecked: 27 December 1848.
''Valhalla' The Tresco Ships' Figurehead Collection' (NMM, 1984)
National Maritime Museum
Royal Museums Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner