Product images of Admiral Augustus Keppel (1725-1786)
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Admiral Augustus Keppel (1725-1786)
A half-length portrait to right wearing flag officer's undress uniform, 1748-1767, with the coat buttoned across. He does not wear a wig. Keppel was the second son of the Earl of Albemarle, and one of a powerful Whig family who came to England in 1688 with William III. In 1740 he joined Commodore Anson on his four-year voyage round the world in the 'Centurion'. In 1749 he went as commodore to the Mediterranean, and took Joshua Reynolds with him (again in 'Centurion'). This voyage marked the beginning of a close lifelong friendship between them. Reynolds was en route for Italy, where he stayed for two years. In 1758 Keppel commanded a small expedition, which captured the island fortress of Goree, off Dakar on the West African coast. At the Battle of Quiberon Bay, 20 November 1759, he commanded the 'Torbay', 74 guns, and played a notable part by sinking the French 'ThesÃ”Ã²Ã¡â”¬Â«e', 74 guns. In 1761 he commanded the naval forces at the capture of Belle Ile and in the following year was second-in-command to Sir George Pocock at the capture of Havana. During this time he became a rear-admiral. On this expedition his elder brother, Lord Albemarle, was Commander-in-Chief and another brother was a general officer on his staff. Keppel commanded the Channel fleet in the early years of the American War of Independence, 1775-1783, but found the fleet unprepared. On 27 July 1778 in the 'Victory', 100 guns, he led the fleet in an indecisive battle with the French off Ushant. His second-in-command, Sir Hugh Palliser, gave him inadequate support and the resulting quarrel split the Navy. Keppel, a Whig, was tried by court-martial, at which Palliser, a Tory, conducted the prosecution. When Keppel was acquitted he became the hero of the hour but the whole affair was politically charged. Keppel retired from active service, entered Parliament as MP for Surrey, and became a Viscount in 1782.
Sir Joshua Reynolds
- Image reference: BHC2820
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London