Death of Nelson
Nelson was struck by a musket ball fired from the French 'Redoutable' at approximately 13.30 on 21 October 1805. The ball struck him in the top of the shoulder and went downwards through his left lung and spine. Nelson fell to the deck and cried, 'They have done for me at last, my backbone is shot through.' He was quickly taken below, a handkerchief over his face to hide his identity from his men, lest they should lose heart. This print is from West's well-known painting of 1806, originally exhibited in his own gallery before James Heath began to engrave it, and now in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. West reported a dinner conversation with Nelson in which the admiral expressed his admiration of prints of his earlier 'Death of General Wolfe' (exhibited in 1771) and asked, if need arose, that West record his own death in battle in similar style. This was West's swift response after Trafalgar, showing Nelson dying on deck in an 'Epic Composition' which he considered appropriate to the importance of the event, rather than 'in the gloomy hold of a ship', as was in fact the case. Heath completed the print in 1811 when both it and the painting were exhibited at the Royal Academy to promote sales of the former, and a key was also issued to identify those shown (see PAH8032).
Original size: 546 mm x 761 mm
- Image reference: PY8031
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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