Derek George Montague Gardner (British, 1914-2007)
The Shannon and the Chesapeake signed 'Derek G.M. Gardner' (lower right) oil on board 38 x 54.6cm (15 x 21 1/2in).
PROVENANCE: Polak Gallery Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1998
The epic fight between H.M.S. Shannon and the U.S.S. Chesapeake during the Anglo-American War of 1812-14 was one of the most renowned naval encounters of the nineteenth century and arguably the quickest and most decisive frigate action ever fought. Captain Philip Broke, in command of the Shannon, had come upon the Chesapeake refitting in Boston Harbour and promptly challenged her to come out and fight. At about noon on 1st June 1813, Captain James Lawrence brought Chesapeake out into the open sea and after a furious annihilating action lasting just fifteen minutes, was forced to surrender. After first firing two devastating broadsides, Broke led his boarding party onto Chesapeake but was so badly wounded that he had to relinquish his command. Casualties on both sides were extraordinarily high 48 Americans, including Captain Lawrence, were killed and 96 wounded whilst Shannon suffered only slightly less with 33 dead and 50 wounded. Despite his injuries, Captain Broke survived to be rewarded with a baronetcy and enduring fame, although he never recovered sufficiently to be able to return to active service.