Large panel by W Hopkins Graft, in carved wood frame, British Worthies
Lot 168*
The British Worthies: an important London enamel plaque by William Hopkins Craft, dated 1798
Sold for £11,250 (US$ 18,909) inc. premium
Lot Details
The British Worthies: an important London enamel plaque by William Hopkins
Of oval form sumptuously painted with a column surmounted with four plaques of British Worthies inscribed with names and dates, 'Earl Howe June 1st 1794', 'Earl St Vincent Feby 14th 1797', 'Viscount Duncan Octr 11th 1797', and 'Baron Nelson Augt 1st 1798', framed by interlocking laurel wreaths, at its base instruments of sea navigation, including a telescope, astrological globe, compass, backstaff and anchor, to the left side sits Britannia resting her right arm on her flagged shield, pointing with her left arm to the names of the Worthies, on the other side a Lion tramples over the flags of France, Spain and the Netherlands, in the background a man o' war flies the colours of Britain, signed on the corner of the footed platform 'W.H.Craft: Invt et fect 1798', in a most elaborate carved giltwood frame with all manner of naval trophies and surmounted by a shell and emblems of Peace and Plenty, the plaque 28.7cm x 33cm, the frame 60cm wide overall


  • The British Worthies plaque is one of William Craft's most important works and is discussed in Aubrey Toppin's important paper, 'William Hopkins Craft, Enamel painter', ECC Trans, Vol 4, Pt 4, p 14. The four 'British Worthies' were celebrated together in a series of prints issued in 1798-99. Between 1797 and 1800 a temple folly celebrating the four was commissioned for the grounds of Storrs Hall by Sir John Legard, 6th Baronet of Ganton, designed by the Artist and Architect Joseph Gandy.

    The British Worthies

    Richard, Viscount Howe (1726 – 1799) was Admiral of the Fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars. On the 'Glorious First of June', 1794, the Third Battle of Ushant was the largest fleet action of the wars. While attempting to prevent the passage of a vital French grain convoy from the United States, the British Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Howe defeated the French fleet with approximately 4,000 casualties and a further 3,000 captured by the British.

    John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent (1735 –1823) came to prominence during the Seven Years War and the War of American Independence and was promoted to Admiral ahead of the Revolutionary Wars. The Spanish declaration of war on Britain and Portugal in October 1796 made the British position in the Mediterranean insecure. In the Battle of Cape St Vincent on 14 February 1797 a fleet under Admiral Sir John Jervis defeated a much larger, combined Franco-Spanish fleet under Admiral Don José de Córdoba. Four ships were captured and a further 3,000 prisoners taken.

    Adam, 1st Viscount Duncan (1731 – 1804) was promoted admiral in 1795 as commander-in-chief of the Venerable. As Admiral of the Fleet he defeated the Dutch naval forces off Camperdown on 11th October 1797, earning him the title of Viscount Duncan of Camperdown plus a pension of £2,000 per annum.

    Viscount Horatio Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté (1758–1805) led as Admiral of the fleet in continuing naval battles between British and French forces. Bonaparte had sought to invade Egypt but at the Battle of the Nile, the French fleet under d'Aigalliers was challenged at Aboukir Bay. During a three day battle from 1–3 August 1798, only 218 British sailors were killed, compared with up to 5,000 casualties of the French fleets
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