Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson (1758-1805)
A half-length portrait facing left in rear-admiral's undress uniform, 1795-1812, with the St Vincent medal and the star of a Knight of the Bath. The empty right sleeve is pinned across with the upper part slit and tied with ribbons to accommodate the wound dressing following the loss of Nelson's right arm at Santa Cruz, Tenerife, in July 1797. It is probably based on the oil portrait BHC2887, the first of several replica portraits of Nelson made by Abbott, and taken from the only oil sketch of Nelson that the artist made from life. At the time Nelson was painfully recovering from the loss of his arm and staying with his former captain William Locker, then Lieutenant-Governor of the Royal Hospital for Seamen, Greenwich. Nelson gave Abbott two sittings while at Greenwich, and from this he produced a sketch that he used as a pattern for as many as about forty portraits of him. Bought by Huson Morris in about 1830, this version was engraved by Robert Graves in 1847 and remained in the Morris family until 1941, during the Second World War, when they sold it in order to make a contribution to the war effort at sea, having publicly stated their view that Nelson would have approved. It was bought for the Museum by the National Art Collection Fund, the proceeds (â”œÃ²â”œâ•‘1000) going to the Board of Admiralty with whom it constituted the origin and nucleus of the Nelson Fund, formed to help protect allied shipping. Thus the sale of the portrait in 1941 was symbolically perceived as an instance of Nelson's continuing potency in Britain's protection at sea.
Lemuel Francis Abbott
- Image reference: BHC2888
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Acquired with the assistance of The Art Fund
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