Tea merchants coming ashore

Tea merchants coming ashore, Sidney Fever, 1974, (RCMS 365_5_25)

The Royal Commonwealth Society department is very happy to announce that it has purchased at auction another oil painting to add to its rich collection of archives and artwork relating to the early tea industry in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and India. ‘Tea merchants coming ashore’ depicts the trade in seeds and saplings, which would be planted to develop the first tea estates. It was painted by the marine artist Sidney Fever (1931-1995) in 1974.  Fever worked as a draughtsman on the ‘Blue Streak’ ballistic missile project in the 1950s, and moved to the Isle of Wight in 1957, initially working as a postman.

The Assam Company’s headquarters at Nazira, India, Sidney Fever, 1983, (RCMS 365_5_16_1)

Fever met former tea planter John Weatherstone while delivering mail to Weatherstone’s art gallery in Shanklin.  Fever’s great love was the sea and Weatherstone featured many of Fever’s marine works in the gallery.  Weatherstone later commissioned Fever to paint a number of thoroughly researched and finely executed pieces to illustrate two books he wrote narrating the birth and development of coffee and tea plantations in South Asia.  Weatherstone generously donated many of these paintings, prints and photographs to the RCS and eight may be viewed on Cambridge Digital Library.     

For other posts on the Weatherstone collection please see:

Early tea cultivation in India and Sri Lanka

‘The Tweed’ in Colombo Harbour, 1888

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