Captain John Schank (1740-1823) by unknown

Captain John Schank (1740-1823)


Fine art poster

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Captain John Schank (1740-1823)

A head and shoulders portrait painted between 1795 and 1805, since it shows the sitter in the 1795-1812 captains' full-dress uniform (over three years) and was engraved as an oval in the 'European Magazine', 1 July 1805: see PAD3348. Schank was an officer of practical mechanical bent who started life in the merchant service and entered the navy as a seaman in 1758. He became a lieutenant during the American war in 1776, the year he was put in charge of constructing a flotilla on Lake Champlain, which defeated a rebel squadron there. He rose to captain in 1783 and is best remembered for developing vessels fitted with 'sliding keels' (what we would now call a drop keels) for operating in shallow water but also being good sailors. The first was built in Boston in 1774 and later the Admiralty ordered several to be built experimentally. The Museum has a model of the 'Lady Nelson' of 1799 (SLR0601) which was successfully used as a survey vessel. Schank served as a transport agent on several expeditions in the first part of the French wars of 1793-1815 and became a full admiral by seniority in 1821.

  • Image reference: BHC3014

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