The Clipper 'Cutty Sark'

Image credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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A painting of the 'Cutty Sark', the most famous – and the last survivor – of the tea-clippers. These were vessels built to carry the annual tea crop back from India and China in the late nineteenth century. As the first ship home would be able to command a far higher price for her cargo, speed was essential. This explains their large area of sail and sleek lines. Launched in Dumbarton in 1869, the 'Cutty Sark' was the finest of the tea-clippers, but she carried tea only for eight years. The opening of the Suez Canal, through which sailing ships could not pass, made the tea-clippers redundant. For a decade the 'Cutty Sark' enjoyed new fame and success carrying wool from Australia, but from 1895 until 1922 she suffered neglect under a succession of owners.

National Maritime Museum



The Clipper 'Cutty Sark'


oil on canvas


H 76.2 x W 116.8 cm

Accession number


Work type



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