Product images of Medusa figurehead of HMS 'Implacable'
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Medusa figurehead of HMS 'Implacable'
Black-and-white painted and gilded bust-length figurehead of HMS 'Implacable' , ex- 'Duguay-Trouin' , representing the gorgon Medusa, with snakes for hair. This 74-gun third-rate was built at Rochefort in 1800 and was one of four such French vessels that escaped from the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, only to be captured in November, in the Bay of Biscay, by a squadron under Sir Richard Strachan. 'Duguay-Trouin' was taken into the Navy and renamed 'Implacable', when it has generally been assumed that the present figurehead replaced an unknown French one. Clear proof of such a change is lacking , however, and the presence of a French fleur-de-lys immediately below the figure on the centreline has not been satisfactorily explained. Despite the ship being named after a celebrated French 17th-century corsair commander, it is possible that the figurehead is the original one. 'Implacable' became a training ship in 1855 and in 1912 was lent to Geoffrey Wheatly-Cobb to become the 'Foudroyant' boys' training vessel at Portsmouth. In the late 1920s and 1930s work began, supported by the NMM's founding benefactor Sir James Caird, to try and preserve her alongside the 'Victory', both as the last French ship from Trafalgar and the last '74'. The outbreak of the Second World War stopped this and after 1945 the ship was judged past repair in the post-war economic situation of both Britain and France (to whom it was offered).
Original size: 2337 mm x 965 mm x 1473 mm
- Image reference: L4464
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London