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Daunt Rock Lightship Rescue

Oil painting by Tim Thompson

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Tim Thompson’s dramatic painting depicts a moment during the 76-hour rescue of the crew aboard the Daunt Rock lightship in a three-day gale in February 1936.

Riding at anchor, the lightship had broken from her mooring off Roberts Head on the southern coast of Ireland, and repeated efforts to tow her to port had failed. Coxswain Patrick Sliney and a crew of seven in the town of Ballycotton’s lifeboat made a series of death-defying dashes to the port side of the foundering lightship and literally plucked the men off, saving all eight on board.

Blending his technical skills with a vivid sense of action and an appreciation for history, Thompson stands among today’s top marine artists. Born in Hull, England, in 1951, he developed a kinship with the sea while growing up in the Channel Islands, teaching himself to paint along the way. In 1982, Thompson met Ted Turner, and the America’s Cup sailor commissioned him to paint a number of his yachts. A host of Cup paintings followed, as did two books: “Winning Moment: The Paintings of the America’s Cup” and “The Story of Yachting.” Thompson’s other subjects range from historic vessels and harbor scenes to working craft and seascapes.

The artist uses traditional techniques to create his distinctive luminosity, building on layers of translucent wash until just the right effect is created. He’s known for his strict attention to detail, shown here in the lightship’s distinctive rigging. “Color and movement are vital components in my work,” says Thompson. “It is important that I see exactly how the sails of a yacht are formed when she is rounding a mark or how the ocean appears during a storm.”

“Daunt Rock Lightship Rescue” is one of 20 works in Edwin Wake-Walker’s “Gold Medal Rescues” collection.

— Steve Knauth

To view this and other works by Tim Thompson visit the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery website at or visit the gallery at 1899 Bronson Road in Fairfield, Conn.

February 2014 issue