Nicholas Pocock (British, 1741-1821) The Battle off Cape St. Vincent, Feb. 14th. 1797, Nelson engagi
Lot 3
Nicholas Pocock (British, 1741-1821) Nelson, in H.M.S. ‘Captain’, engaging the Spanish ships 'San Nicolas' and 'San Josef' prior to boarding them at the Battle of St. Vincent one 9 x 13cm. (3 1/2 x 5 1/8in.), two 6.7 x 8cm. (2 5/8 x 3 1/8in.), a set of three vignettes
Sold for £3,600 (US$ 5,622) inc. premium

Lot Details
Nicholas Pocock (British, 1741-1821)
Nelson, in H.M.S. ‘Captain’, engaging the Spanish ships 'San Nicolas' and 'San Josef' prior to boarding them at the Battle of St. Vincent
one bears inscription on reverse
pen, ink and watercolour
one 9 x 13cm. (3 1/2 x 5 1/8in.), two 6.7 x 8cm. (2 5/8 x 3 1/8in.), a set of three vignettes
3 on 1 mount

Footnotes

  • Literature:
    David Cordingly, Nicholas Pocock, 1740-1821, Conway Maritime Press, London, 1986, pp. 88-9, plate 62.

    The Battle of Cape St. Vincent, fought on 14th February 1797, was a much-needed British victory at a time when the war with Revolutionary France and her allies was not going well. At the end of 1796, French and Spanish ships were ordered to Brest to support an invasion of Ireland. The French, based at Toulon, slipped through the Straits of Gibraltar successfully but Admiral Sir John Jervis, cruising off Cape St. Vincent with 15 ships-of-the line including H.M.S. ‘Victory’, was determined to intercept the Spaniards and stop the two enemy fleets from joining up. On 13th February 1797 Jervis was joined by Commodore Nelson’s squadron from Gibraltar, and together they engaged the Spanish fleet the following day. By late afternoon, Jervis’s victory over the much larger enemy fleet of 27 ships-of-the-line was assured thanks to the efficiency of his own Mediterranean Fleet and Nelson’s brilliant daring at a critical moment during the battle.

    It was here that Nelson displayed his grasp of strategy combined with fearless personal leadership for the first time. As the action got under way, he realised that – unseen by Jervis – the bulk of the Spanish fleet was making ready to flee the scene and escape. Without a moment’s hesitation Nelson took his ship ‘Captain’ out of the battle line and, closely followed by Collingwood in ‘Excellent’ and Troubridge in ‘Culloden’, opened fire upon the leading Spanish ships. After a furious duel, Nelson laid ‘Captain’ alongside the 80-gun ‘San Nicolas’ and personally led his boarding party over the two ships’ sides. Meanwhile, the larger Spanish 114-gun ‘San Josef’ had collided with and become entangled with ‘San Nicolas’, whereupon Nelson, having first accepted the surrender of the ‘San Nicolas’, then led his men onto ‘San Josef’s’ decks and promptly took her as well. It was a masterstroke and, in the aftermath of victory, Nelson emerged from it with promotion, official recognition and a reputation which would ultimately become a legend.

    In 1809, Pocock was commissioned by the publishers of Clarke & McArthur’s Life of Admiral Lord Nelson to paint six oils which could be engraved to provide illustrations for the book. The one painting relating to the Battle of Cape St. Vincent was a representation of the above incident – namely the capture of the ‘San Nicolas’ and the ‘San Josef’ – and in view of that work’s striking similarity to the two outer images in this lot, it seems extremely likely that all three of them were preparatory sketches for the final oil.
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