The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, end of the action
Originally thought to be the Battle of St Vincent, the painting shows the ships scattered after the Battle of Trafalgar. By the evening of 22 October a full gale was blowing and instead of anchoring the fleet, Vice-Admiral Collingwood took it out to sea. During the night the British lost the prizes, 'Fougeux', 'Redoutable', and 'Algeciras'. The storm raged until 27 October, and when it finally subsided only four enemy ships remained in British hands, most having been wrecked on the Spanish coast around Cadiz. The painting appears to be located off the harbour of Cadiz and shows a French ship in starboard-quarter view, with the top of her masts partly gone with a dismasted Spanish ship in stern view behind, both trying to make the harbour. A British ship is shown in the foreground on the right, in port-bow view with a dismasted Spanish ship in stern view in the distance. In the central foreground part of a sail and mast from a wrecked ship are just visible above the waves and on the left the ships in distress on the coast include a French one sinking. In the far distance ships are also shown safe within the harbour. Buttersworth produced a number of variants of similar subjects but this one may refer to the bold but fruitless post-Trafalgar sortie from Cadiz by a small squadron under Admiral Cosmao-Julien. This painting is one of a pair, the other showing a scene from battle itself (see BHC0553). Buttersworth produced a number of variants of similar subjects.
- Image reference: BHC0554
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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