The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 by George Chambers

The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805

George Chambers

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The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805

Painted some thirty years after the event, this shows the battle at about 14.30 in the afternoon and is a copy of Clarkson Stanfield's very large canvas painted for the United Service Club, Pall Mall, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836. It is an unusual interpretation of the battle, viewed from the lee rather than the weather side of the British fleet, with sky occupying three-quarters of the picture. The 'Victory', in starboard-bow view is in the centre right of the picture, with the 'Redoutable' and 'TÔòá┬«mÔòá┬«raire' side by side and port bow view. Beyond the 'TÔòá┬«mÔòá┬«raire' the 'Fougeux' starboard bow view is shown being raked from astern by the 'Mars' whose port bow is visible. The foreground focuses on the dramatic effects of wreckage with shipwrecked sailors clinging to floating spars and other debris. On the left, the jagged part of a mast is visible with French sailors clinging to it. A British boat hovers close by, attempting to take the sailors off. In the central foreground a sailor clutching a boat-hook stands in the bow of a boat. On the right more wreckage is in front of the 'Santissima Trinidad', shown stern-on and half into the picture. On the far left of the picture is the 'Royal Sovereign' in starboard-bow view, beside the 'Santa Ana' in port-bow view. Beyond these two are the sterns of the 'Belleisle', a British ship, and the French 'Achille'. On the right side of the picture and beyond the 'Victory's' bow, the 'Conqueror' is firing into the 'Bucentaure', shown in starboard-quarter view. To starboard of her the 'Neptune' is in port-quarter view with part of the stern of the 'Leviathan' seen beyond her. The original Stanfield painting was done as a pendant to George Jone's equally large view of Waterloo (1820). Both are still in the United Service Club building, London (which now houses the Institute of Directors). It is not clear why Chambers made this rather mechanical copy - it is possible it was for a member of the Club. It is signed 'G Chambers'.
George Chambers, Senior

  • Image reference: BHC0545

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