Robert Strickland Thomas (British, 1787-1853) H.M.S. Nelson, 120 tons, leaving Portsmouth with a frigate
Lot 136
Robert Strickland Thomas (British, 1787-1853) H.M.S. Nelson outward bound from Portsmouth, in a heavy swell, with a frigate heading into port off her stern
£5,000 - 7,000
US$ 8,400 - 12,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
Robert Strickland Thomas (British, 1787-1853)
H.M.S. Nelson outward bound from Portsmouth, in a heavy swell, with a frigate heading into port off her stern
signed, inscribed and dated 'R.S. Thomas R.N. P. 1847' (lower right)
oil on canvas
69 x 103.8cm (27 3/16 x 40 7/8in).


    Private collection, UK

    Named as a fitting memorial to Lord Nelson who had been mortally wounded at Trafalgar the previous October, H.M.S. Nelson was ordered in May 1806 but not actually laid down until December 1809. The nameship of three Nelson first rates, she was built at Woolwich Dockyard to a design based upon Sir William Rule's plans for his Caledonia of 1794, and her tonnage and dimensions were virtually identical. Measured at 2,601 tons with an overall length of 205 feet and a 53 foot beam, she mounted 120 guns, principally 32-32pdrs. on her gundeck, 34-24pdrs. on her maindeck and 34-18pdrs. on her upper deck. Launched on 4th July 1814, by which time the long conflict at sea was essentially over following Napoleon's abdication and initial exile to Elba, her final completion was then completely overshadowed by the aftermath of Waterloo and the government's natural desire to cut back on naval expenditure after twenty-three years of almost continuous war.

    The years of peace saw H.M.S. Nelson often at sea but also laid up for long periods, until the introduction of steam into the fleet gave her a belated new lease of life. Although not one of the early conversions, anxiety about a Franco-Russian rapprochement after the Crimean War spurred the Admiralty into further conversions of old line-of-battle sailing ships. Some of the most suitable of these were the 120-gun three-deckers of both the Nelson and Caledonia classes and thus H.M.S. Nelson was drydocked in 1858-59 for the necessary work. Cut down and lengthened, she emerged 11 feet longer and 1 foot broader with new 500nhp. engines by Miller & Ravenhill fitted amidships. On her speed trials in Stokes Bay on 21st June 1860, she achieved a very satisfactory 11½ knots and returned to sea duty with a reduced armament of 90 guns. Despite the money spent on her conversion however, the era of the ironclad was dawning and the days of England's "wooden walls" were rapidly coming to an end. In the absence of a fighting rôle for her, Nelson was fitted out as a schoolship for the government of New South Wales in October 1867 and was employed thus until she was sold in April 1898. Thereafter used as a store hulk and later still as a coal hulk, she was eventually broken up at Launceston in September 1928 although it is unclear how long she had been back in home waters.
  1. Veronique Scorer
    Specialist - Marine Art
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