Montague Dawson (British, 1895-1973) Trafalgar; Victory at noon 101.6 x 127cm. (40 x 50in.)
Lot 91*
Montague Dawson (British, 1895-1973) Trafalgar; Victory at noon - H.M.S. 'Victory' breaking the enemy line and raking the stern of the French flagship 101.6 x 127cm. (40 x 50in.)
Sold for £179,200 (US$ 287,624) inc. premium

Lot Details
Montague Dawson (British, 1895-1973)
Trafalgar; Victory at noon - H.M.S. 'Victory' breaking the enemy line and raking the stern of the French flagship
signed 'Montague Dawson' (lower left)
oil on canvas
101.6 x 127cm. (40 x 50in.)

Footnotes

  • 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-of- 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 the 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.

    In this magnificent rendering of the most famous sea battle in history, 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.
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