Thomas O'Brien Mills Driver (1789-1852)
Hamilton, Bermudas
signed and dated in the plate 'T Driver in loco.' (lower left) and '1823' (lower right), with title 'Hamilton Bermudas.' (in the lower margin)
handcoloured lithograph
1412 x 20in. (36.8 x 50.8cm.)
Driver's very rare views of Bermuda, along with the panoramic views by Lieutenant Edmund Gilling Hallewell published in 1848, are the most important early printed views of colonial Bermuda.

A rare plate with contemporary handcolouring and title from the series of lithographs thought to have been printed between 1823 and 1835, and known hitherto only from the surviving examples now in the The Bermuda Archives, Hamilton, Bermuda (DAP 04/01/0001-5). They appear to have been trial proofs for a series of views Driver attempted unsuccessfully to engage Ackermann's to publish on his return to London in 1836. The title in the margin of the present plate straddles the dedication to the Governor of Bermuda, Sir William Lumley (Governor from 1819-1822 and 1823-1825), featuring his award, the Order of the Bath ('Tra Juncta in Uno'), and his family motto 'Murus Aeneus Conscientia Sana' ('a sound conscience is a wall of brass'). There is just one other extant copy of this rare plate known to survive with margins and title (in the Bermuda Archives).

Here Driver paints shipping on the Great Sound with a slave (emancipation would come into effect in the British Empire in 1834) offering his catch to another vessel, with the backdrop of Hamilton's waterfront. Hamilton became Bermuda's capital in 1815, with Government House to the north, Admiralty House, the Royal Navy's headquarters, to the west, and the army garrison at Prospect Camp to the east.

'Son of a Cambridge merchant, Driver arrived in Bermuda [in 1814] as an assistant to the Agent for Victualling His Majesty's Ships. This was at the height of the War of 1812, and Driver helped to provision large numbers of warships. He remained in Bermuda after the war, working as an auctioneer and commission merchant, and benefited from a brief prosperity that Bermuda enjoyed as an entrepôt for West Indian produce. The economy collapsed in 1821, however, and Driver never recovered financially. He advertised himself as a painter of portraits in oil and miniature in the 1820s and seems to have augmented his income with landscape commissions. Driver returned to England in 1836...' (New York, The Pierpoint Morgan Library, and Hamilton, Bermuda National Gallery, Through British Eyes: Images of Bermuda 1815-1860 (exhibition catalogue), New York, 1996, p.11).

The majority of Thomas Driver's surviving works (many from the collection of his watercolours and prints which appeared at Sotheby's London, 4 November 1987) now reside in the collection of The Bermuda Archives (Fay and Geoffrey Elliott Collection, DAP 04/02 (series) Views of Spain, Bermuda and West Indies by Thomas Driver).
with The Parker Gallery, London (label on the backing board).
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