Was Dr Who in Paris in the 19th Century?


Diving suit at the Musee de la Marine, Paris

Diving suit at the Paris Musée de la Marine, Paris. As usual, click
on the photo for a larger image

Clearly the answer is likely to be yes. Either Dr Who was strolling down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in the 19th Century, or his creators were – for how else could the carapace of this extraordinary alien come to be in the Paris Musée de la Marine?

A humorist might say that the presence of Dr Who and various aliens would explain some of France’s extraordinary historical twists and turns during the century before last, but I’d never dare risk disturbing French dignity in that way. No non no!

Diving suit at the Musee de la Marine, Paris

Diving suit at the Musee de la Marine, Paris

Diving suit at the Musee de la Marine, Paris

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The horrific burning of the British East-Indiaman Kent off the coast of Bengal


Burning of the British East-Indiaman Kent by Theodore Gudin

Burning of the British East-Indiaman Kent Burning of the British East-Indiaman Kent Burning of the British East-Indiaman Kent

Burning of the British East-Indiaman Kent

The burning of the British East-Indiaman Kent, pictured by Théodore Gudin in 1825

I won’t be able to put up many posts at intheboatshed.net this week as we’ll be sailing on the Norfolk Broads for the next few days – though you can be sure I’ll try to come back with with a collection of stories and photos!

In the meantime, here are some more of my promised shots from the wonderful Paris Musée de la Marine.

Like the previous featured painting of Napoleon being feted by crowds at Antwerp, this is also by Théodore Gudin – but the subject couldn’t be more different.

Instead of a successful and adored leader surrounded by a cheering admirers, The Burning of the Kent shows the British East India Company ship sinking and burning in a storm off Bengal. The story goes that during the storm a lamp fell during a powerful gust and set fire to the ship close to the area where the gunpowder was kept.

Gudin pulls no punches in presenting the horror of the disastrous sinking, or the heroism of the rescuers from another British ship, the Cambria.

For more intheboatshed.net posts featuring Paris, click here.

Ship decorations at the Paris Musée de la Marine

Charlemagne, from the Real de France

The head of Charlemagne, from the ship Réal de France, built in 1694. He
makes a noble, striking figure at something like 5 feet tall, and it’s difficult
to believe he’s over 300 years old

La Reale de France stern La Réale de France fighting figures La Réale de France naval officer

La Réale de France stern, fighting figures, and a naval officer

Amphitrite figurehead from the Amphitrie, 1810 Figurehead of Brennus, from a cuirassée of the same name 1899

Figureheads. Amphitrite, goddess of the sea, from the French ship Amphitrie built
in 1810 – she should have been a mermaid!. Gaul leader Brennus from 1899

Figurehead of Napoleon from the Iéna, 1846 Figurehead of Napoleon from the Iéna, 1846

Figurehead of Napoleon from the Iéna, 1846

More photos from the Musée de la Marine in Paris.

The pomp and circumstance surrounding fighting ships of the past is astonishing to behold. They’re ornaments as well as instruments of war – and what ornaments! What these shots don’t really show is the scale of these carvings – Napoleon, for example was massive – the distance from his waist to the top of his head must have been six feet or so.

It’s striking to us Brits that the disgraced autocratic ruler Napoleon should be so honoured decades after his death. Someday I must learn something about the mysteries of history of France!