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Claude & Victor Batelier’s Premier Pump Hopper Steam Dredge.png

The Batelier Collection


Claude James Batelier (1886-1971) and his brother Victor George Batelier (1882-1952) arrived in Albany on board the Steamship Kalgoorlie from South Australia in 1902. On the 2 January 1904 a sketch by Claude of the British Cruiser HMS Diadem signed and dated ‘C. J. Batelier 03’ appeared in the Western Mail. HMS Diadem and her consort, HMS Scylla, which had arrived a day before Diadem, departed Albany for Sydney on 26 November 1903.

In 1904, Claude used his sketch to paint a watercolour of HMS Diadem. This work, titled ‘HMS DIADEM 11,000 TONS’, is signed and dated ‘C. J. Batelier ALBANY 04’. In this watercolour, Claude has moved the Petrel to the left side of the painting. Claude was eighteen years old when he painted HMS Diadem and was already a talented artist.


Claude and his brother Victor, four years his senior, worked together as commercial illustrators, designers and fine artists, producing postcards and were both artists as their father was George Louis. The Batelier Brothers completed numerous watercolours with Claude specialising in marine pieces and continued the tradition of 'Captains' Portraits' of ship's in port, hoping to sell the work to the captain and Victor painted landscapes. 

Whilst Victor specialised in landscapes and buildings, Claude preferred marine subjects; several marine paintings are signed ‘V. G. & C. J. Batelier’, ‘Batelier Bros’ or ‘B. B.’. Though Claude painted all manner of watercraft, whether sail, steam, naval or merchant vessels, he liked painting battleships, preferably of the dreadnought class.

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Claude Batelier
Albany, Western Australia
1886 - 1971

Claude has sometimes been described as a ‘Pierhead Painter’; however, like many of the naïve ship-portrait artists of that genre, his work is accurate, charming, vibrant, and colourful. Claude Batelier’s work is an invaluable chronicle of our maritime history recorded by someone who was there, a history that would otherwise be lost to us.

In 1906, the brothers published their first set of postcards and in 1908 utilising their own art illustrates of familiar Albany landmarks.  Their artwork was not financial viable and later were advised that they were prohibited by military from sketching the ships due to security reasons.  They were both outraged and Victor continued a long running argument with the military command.

In the later years of his life, Claude was a regular visitor at a corner table of Edgar Green’s ‘Rainbow Milk Bar’ on York Street, Albany. Mr Green gave Claude most of his daily meals. Penniless and alone, Claude requested Mr. Green to donate his artworks and those of his predeceased brother Victor to the Albany Historical Society (AHS) upon his death. Mr Green generously paid for Claude's funeral.

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HMAS Encounter  | c.1906

HMAS Encounter was a second-class-protected cruiser of the Challenger class operated by the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built by HM Dockyard Devenport and completed at the end of 1905. Encounter spent the first six years of her career operating with the RN’s Australia Squadron before being transferred to the newly formed RAN. During World War I, the cruiser became the first ship of the RAN to fire in anger when she bombarded Toma Ridge. Encounter operated in the New Guinea, Fiji-Samoa, and Malaya areas until 1916. She was scuttled off Sydney Heads in 1932.

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RMS Baltic  |  c.1904

RMS Baltic was an ocean liner of the White Star Line that sailed between 1904 and 1932. At 23,876 gross register tonnage, she was the world’s largest ship until May 1906. She was the third of a quartet of ships, all measuring over 20,000 gross register tons. It is believed to have been painted by Claude from news articles at the time of her build and maiden voyage to New York. Captain Smith, of Titanic fame, was the Baltic’s first Captain.

Claude Batelier’s HMS Powerful, Challenger & Encounter 1907.png

HMS Powerful, Challenger & Encounter |  c.1907

The Challenger class cruisers were a pair of second-class protected cruisers built for the Royal One ship. HMS Encounter was later transferred to the Royal Australian Navy in 1912. HMS Powerful was the lead ship of her class of two protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1890s. After a lengthy refit in 1905, Powerful became the flagship of the Australia Station. In 1912, she became HMAS Encounter. She was sold for scrap and scuttled in 1932.

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Russian Imperial Navy Baltic Fleet  |  c.1904

Believed painted from news articles at the time covering the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. Of the 29 ships in the Baltic fleet, 21 were sunk, and 7 more were captured, with one unaccounted for. 5045 men of the Russian Imperial Navy were lost in the battle.

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HMS Euryalus  |  c.1904

HMS Euryalus was a Cressy-class armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy around 900. She was launched on May 20, 1901, and completed on January 5, 1904; she was commissioned in the same year and became the flagship of the Australia Station also that year. She was reduced to reserve upon her return in 1905 and recommissioned in 1906 as a training ship for the North America and West Indies Station. Sold for scrap in July 1920.

Suevic Steaming into Princess Royal Harbour, with Tug the Bruce Towing a Lighter Alongside

SS Suevic steaming into PRH with Tug the Bruce Towing a Lighter

SS Suevic was a steamship built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line. Suevic was the fifth and last of the Jubilee-class ocean liners, built specifically to service the Liverpool-Cape Town-Sydney route, along with her sister ship Runic. In 1907, she was wrecked off the south coast of England, but in the largest rescue of its kind, all passengers and crew were saved. The ship herself was deliberately broken in two, and a new bow was attached to the salvaged stern portion. Later serving as a Norwegian whaling factory ship carrying the name Skytteren, she was scuttled off the Swedish coast in 1942 to prevent her capture by ships of Nazi Germany.

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State Government Premier Pump Hopper Steam Dredge | c.1904

Watercolour of the State Government Steam Dredge Premier. Working in Princess Royal Harbour, Albany, Tuesday 29th November 1904. The Premier was one of three steam dredges owned and operated by the West Australian government’s public works office.

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RMS SS Mooltan | c.1906

Built by Caird & Company of Greenock, Yard. Num 306 was launched on 3rd August 1905; Mooltan had accommodation for 348 1st and 166 2nd class passengers. Tonnage: 9621 grt  4828 nrt, Length: 520 feet, Breadth: 58 feet Completed on 4th October 1905, she made her maiden voyage to Bombay. In 1906, she transferred to the London – Colombo – Melbourne – Sydney service. On 26th July 1915, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine UC.27 off the coast of Sardinia while en route from Malta to Marseilles in convoy. All 554 passengers and crew except one seaman were rescued by escorting Japanese destroyers.

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HMS Montagu  |  c.1906

HMS Montagu was a Duncan-class pre-dreadnought battleship of the Royal Navy. Built to counter a group of fast Russian battleships, Montagu and her sister ships were capable of steaming at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph), making them the fastest battleships in the world. Montagu was built between her keel laying in November 1899 and her completion in July 1903. The ship had a brief career, serving for two years in the Mediterranean Fleet before transferring to the Channel Fleet in early 1905. During wireless telegraphy experiments in May 1906, she ran aground off Lundy Island. Repeated attempts to refloat the ship failed, and she proved to be a total loss. She was ultimately broken up in situ.

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SS Grantala Albany  |  c.1904

The SS Grantala was a passenger steamship built in England in 1903 as a coastal interstate liner for the Adelaide Steamship Company. 1914, the Commonwealth Government requisitioned her as a Royal Australian Navy hospital ship. She then became the HMAS Grantala. She was only in service from the 7th of August Until the 22nd of December 1914, as it was decided that she was too small. She was Australia’s only hospital ship in the First World War. The SS Grantala was scrapped in Italy in 1934.

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SS Lothringen, Deep Water Jetty Albany  |  c.1906

The Steamer Lothringen was a 5008-ton North German Lloyd Cargo vessel. Painted by Claude alongside the deep-water jetty Princess Royal Harbour Albany in 1906. She was seized by the Australian authorities at the outbreak of World War I and renamed the ‘Moora’. The steam tug ‘The Bruce’ is painted alongside.

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SS Maitland, Town Jetty Albany  |  c.1906

Watercolour, ink, and gouache on paper of SS Maitland. In the background is the Vancouver Peninsular on the far side of Princess Royal Harbour, with the Albany deep-water jetty shown mid-field left.

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SS Ferret, Starboard Side Town Jetty Albany  |  c.1906

SS Ferret was an iron screw steamship of 460 tons built in Glasgow (Scotland) in 1871 by J & G Thomson, Glasgow. The ship was built for G & J Burns of Glasgow for use in the River Clyde ferry service. In 1873, Dingwall & Skye Railway Co Ltd bought it for use in the construction of the Tay Rail Bridge. Later, as part of a merger, it was acquired by Highland Railway Co. of Inverness. In 1880, the ship was stolen as part of a conspiracy. It disappeared from its home in Scotland and mysteriously reappeared several months later in Australia under a new name. It remained in Australia for the remainder of its working life.

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Premier Pump Hopper Steam Dredge  | Claude & Victor Batelier

Ink and gouache. The steam dredge ‘PREMIER’ dredging in Princess Royal harbour Albany. Painted approximately 1905-1906. Built in Holland, she was a very powerful dredge with the ability to move 600 tons of sand in 13 minutes. She was used extensively in the dredging of Princess Royal Harbour.

Claude Batelier’s first Watercolour in Albany. HMS Diadem 11000 Tons.png

HMS Diadem 11,000 Tons | Batelier's First Watercolour | c.1903

Diadem was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd in Govan, UK. She was laid down on 23 January 1896 and launched on 21 October of the same year. She arrived in Albany on 03/11/1903, making her the largest naval ship to visit Albany to that date. A drawing of the Diadem signed and dated ‘C. J. Batelier 03’, was published in The Western Mail on Saturday, 2 January 1904. Depicted in the right foreground of the drawing is the Albany Harbour Master’s steam launch, Petrel. In 1904, Claude used his sketch to paint a watercolour of HMS Diadem. This work, titled ‘HMS DIADEM 11,000 TONS’, is signed and dated ‘C. J. Batelier ALBANY 04’. In this watercolour, Claude has moved the Petrel to the left side of the painting. This is considered Claude’s first serious work in his new home. He was aged 18 years old.

Claude Batelier’s Unfinished Painting of

RMS SS Waratah Debunking at Albany Wharf | c.1909

SS Waratah was a passenger and cargo steamship built for the Blue Anchor Line to operate between Europe and Australia in July 1909; on only her second voyage, the ship, en route along the coast of the Colony of Natal (part of modern-day South Africa) from Durban to Cape Town, disappeared with 211 passengers and crew aboard. No trace of the ship has ever been found. Her fate remains unknown. Portrait Canvas.

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