More elaborate than Barocco palace facades, these monumental sterns were built to impress
When we ran our article entitled Ship Figureheads: Symbols of the Sea, it seemed like a great idea to take an in depth look at the decorative art at the other end of the ship as well.
The stern is the rear of a ship or boat, being positioned opposite the front or bow, where the figurehead would normally be located.
The Swedish warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961 (see photo above). Now on display in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, the stern is painted in what are believed to have been the original colours. Another view of Vasa's stern:
(image credit: Andy Carvin)
Strangely, some sterns sported animals of all sorts, including... elephants! -
Another Danish line ship - Dronning Juliane Marie, 1752 (the model is on display in the museum in Copenhagen):
Italian tall ship Amerigo Vespucci (built in 1936) sports a colorful deck ornament:
This colourful painting appears on the stern of the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s sixteenth century ship, the Golden Hind, which can be viewed on the South Bank of the River Thames in London:
A modern replica of the Dutch East India Company ship Batavia, completed in 1995, can be visited at Lelystad in the Netherlands. The original ship was wrecked off the coast of Western Australia in 1629 on its maiden voyage. Batavia is also notorious for the mutiny and massacre that followed the shipwreck (left):
Right image above: Susan Constant was one of the ships associated with the founding of the first permanent English settlement in North America in the early seventeenth century. A replica is on display at historic Jamestown in Virginia.
Gotheborg was a Swedish East Indiaman ship, which sank in 1745 after returning from a voyage to China. When the wreck was located in 1984, it was decided to build a replica, launched in 2003:
(image credit: Bengt holm)
This stern belongs to the replica of the Dutch East India Company ship Amsterdam. The original vessel sank off southern England in 1749, at the beginning of its journey to the Dutch East Indies. The wreck was rediscovered in 1969 off the coast of East Sussex in the UK and it can sometimes still be seen today at low tide:
The Royal Navy ship Bounty was the scene of the famous mutiny in the South Pacific in 1789, the topic of several movies. This is the stern of a more modern replica:
(image credit: K. Robert)
Here’s the stern of Victory, flagship of Lord Nelson, one of England’s greatest national heroes, who died at the moment of his greatest victory at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Ship quarterdecks that look like a facade of a mansion:
HMS Implacable also first saw service in Napoleonic Wars. It was originally a French ship, captured in the last action of the Trafalgar Campaign in 1805. The stern gallery shown here is on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in the UK:
(image credit: Andrew Facey)
The frigate HMS Trincomalee was launched in 1817 and after a full restoration, the ship is now on display at Hartlepool, County Durham, in the UK:
(image credit: Steve T.)
The USS Constellation was the last sail-only warship built by the US Navy. First launched in 1854, the ship is currently located in the harbour in Baltimore (Left image). Launched in 1860, HMS Warrior was the Royal Navy’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship, powered by both sail and steam. The ship now serves as a museum and tourist attraction at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in the UK (right image below):
The Kalmar Nyckel, or Key of Kalmar, was a merchant ship that carried Swedish and Finnish settlers to establish the colony of New Sweden, located on the mid-Atlantic coast of what would later become the United States, in 1638. This is the stern of the replica, launched at Wilmington, Delaware in 1997 (left image):
Another modern replica, The Grand Turk, was built in 1996, to represent a generic warship from the Napoleonic era. It served as HMS Indefatigable in the Hornblower TV series, although the original Indefatigable from 1784 was actually a bigger vessel (right image above)
The HMS Surprise, located in the Maritime Museum of San Diego, was originally built in Nova Scotia in 1970 as a replica of HMS Rose, which dated from the later eighteenth century. The ship was used in the movies Master and Commander and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
(image credit: William Graf)
This rather bizarre stern is from The Flying Dutchman, another one of the ships depicted in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies:
So there you have it, a look at the decorative art of the ship’s stern. Don’t forget to check out the companion article, Ship Figureheads: Symbols of the Sea, right here at Dark Roasted Blend.