The Battle of Trafalgar

Montague Dawson

TitleThe Battle of Trafalgar
ArtistMontague Dawson
Paper Size (W x H)39 x 34 ins
Edition Size50

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In this magnificent rendering of the most famous sea battle in history, the Battle of Trafalgar, Dawson has depicted Victory’ just as she breaks through the enemy line and pours her first massive port broadside into Bucentaure’s stern. Smashing through the enemy flagship’s three-tiered galleries, Victory’s devastating fire sweeps along the length of all three gundecks causing immense damage and huge loss of life whilst on Victory’s starboard side, the artist has shown the enemy line stretching away into the distance. The overall effect is a triumph and shows the artist’s skill at its consummate peak.

Throughout the long history of war at sea, the battle of Trafalgar was certainly the most complete victory of the age of sail if not the most decisive naval engagement ever fought.
After a lengthy and frustrating chase across the Atlantic Ocean and back, Lord Nelson finally confronted the Franco-Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar on the morning of 21st October 1805. Admiral Villeneuve, the French supreme commander, had managed to combine the Spanish fleet with his own to give him a formidable thirty-three ships for a war against Nelson’s total of twenty-seven. To compensate for this numerical imbalance, Nelson had conceived his famously unconventional battle plan to break the enemy line in two places and as soon as the opposing fleets sighted each other on a fateful morning, the British ships formed up into their two pre-arranged columns.

Nelson himself led the Weather Division in H.M.S. Victory whilst his second-in-command, Vice-Admiral Collingwood, spearheaded the Leeward Division in the 100-gun Royal Sovereign. As the fleets closed for action, Royal Sovereign drew ahead and broke the line first, but it was almost half-an-hour before Victory was able to do the same when she forced herself between Villeneuve’s flagship Bucentaure and Captain Lucas in the Redoubtable. Close behind Victory was Téméraire and, within minutes, the four ships became embroiled in a tremendous struggle during which the 74-gun Redoubtable fought with great heroism against the two much larger British first rates. Victory pounded Redoubtable relentlessly, inflicting appalling casualties amongst the men on her decks, whereas, above the carnage, the French sharpshooters stationed in the fighting tops of the masts quietly waited in turn for their opportunities to pick off men on Victory’s decks, one of whom would soon be Nelson himself.

The print is hand numbered and accompanied by a certificate signed by the Master Printer and bearing a matching number to the print.

About the Artist

Montague Dawson

Born in Chiswick, London, Montague Dawson was the son and grandson of marine artists and he grew up to become perhaps the greatest marine artist of all time. Indeed, so successful was he that, at his peak, he was rumoured to be one of the two best-paid artists in the world, second only to Picasso.

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