The original painting was done in 1784, but is currently lost. Almost all of the original prints date to 1796, with the only exception being a sketch of the original gallery space in which it hung.
|West Wall, The Great Room, Somerset House, |
the main space of the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1784,
Edward Francis Burney, 1784, British Museum.
Here's a detail of a sketch of the original painting, as it hung in an exhibition hall in 1784. Click to enlarge:
Below is a print made of the now-lost painting in 1784. The engraving notes that "the size of the picture is 12 feet by 8 feet 5 inches" - quite sizable.
|Portraits of the Officers and Men who were preserv'd from the |
Wreck of the Centaur
Etching. T. Gaugain, London, 1784.
|Portraits of the Officers and Men who were preserv'd from|
the Wreck of the Centaur
Hand-colored aquatint. T. Philips, London, 1796.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
The sailors' clothing looks quite similar to the styles from the early 1790s that I am more familiar with: short hair, baggy white trousers, and shirts with narrow-banded cuffs. The standing sailor wears his blue jacket with a shirt underneath and no waistcoat, while another man wears a white shirt with no waistcoat, letting us see his finely-pleated shoulders. A blue neck-cloth flutters at the neck of a man in the background of the 1796 aquatint. In both editions the sailor mounted on the bow of the boat has a red jacket with a broad turned-down collar and large blue neck-cloth loosely tied around his neck.