Collection Online
The Pilgrim Fathers: Departure of a Puritan family for New England

The Pilgrim Fathers: Departure of a Puritan family for New England

oil on canvas
221.5 × 287.6 cm
inscribed in brown and black paint l.c.: C W Cope
inscribed in red paint l.c.l.: C W Cope / 1856.
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased by the Commissioners of Fine Arts for Victoria, 1864
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
Subjects (general)
History and Legend Human Figures Travel
Subjects (specific)
boats departures Leyden (inhabited place) Netherlands (nation) pilgrims (people) praying Protestantism travellers (people by activity)

Purchased from the artist by Lloyd (print publisher), 1857; returned to the artist following Lloyd's bankruptcy, 1859; from whom purchased, by Sir Charles Eastlake, for the NGV, 1864.

Exhibited: Royal Academy, London, 1857 no. 503; Philadelphia, c. 1860; exhibited Fine Arts Gallery (Compartment 10), Intercolonial Exhibition, Melbourne, 1866, no. 317; First Loan Exhibition of Works of Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1869, no. 499; The First Fifty Years: Nineteenth Century British Art from the Gallery Archives, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne,  1992; The First Collections: The Public Library and the National Gallery of Victoria in the 1850s and 1860s, University of Melbourne Museum of Art, Melbourne, 1992, no. 4; Hidden Treasures, David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney, 1992.

In the nineteenth century, Puritan subjects were popular in England and the United States. This impressive painting was shown at London’s Royal Academy in 1857 with the following text drawn from Bradford’s History of Plimouth Plantation 1606–1646: ‘About July 21, 1620, the English voyagers at Leyden leave that city, where they had lived near twelve years, being accompanied by most of their brethren to Delft Haven, where their ship lay ready… At their parting, Mr. Robinson, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery eyes, commended them with most fervent prayers to God.’


The frame made for The Pilgrim Fathers: Departure of a Puritan family for New England, is representative of frames made some time after the painting arrived in Melbourne.
Here the frame is not made until 7 years after purchase. An example with the framing delayed for ten years occurs with Henry Shorts Fish Fruit and Flowers, a frame also by W. R. Stevens.
The frame was with the painting in 1935, represented in an article in the Star newspaper.

The form and detail of this frame are very similar to the frame on Webb, Rotterdam at sunset, 1868, acquired in 1869, (p.302.1-1)

Like the frame for the Webb, the four pieces of this frame were located in storage in 1999.
The frame is yet to be restored and returned to the painting.

W. R. Stevens
1871 (from register of accounts: Stevens paid Feb. 7 1871 for Gilt frame for P. Fathers.

timber, composition, gold leaf


needing repair, slip missing