Lieut. William Elliott, R.N. (active 1784-1795) Lord Rodney's flagship 'Formidable' breaking through the French line at the battle of the Saintes, 12th. April 1782 61 x 91.4cm. (24 x 36in.)

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Lot 40
Lieut. William Elliott, R.N.
(active 1784-1795)
Lord Rodney's flagship 'Formidable' breaking through the French line at the battle of the Saintes, 12th. April 1782 61 x 91.4cm. (24 x 36in.)

£ 8,000 - 12,000
US$ 11,000 - 17,000

Marine Sale

19 Feb 2008, 14:00 GMT

London, New Bond Street

Lieut. William Elliott, R.N. (active 1784-1795)
Lord Rodney's flagship 'Formidable' breaking through the French line at the battle of the Saintes, 12th. April 1782
signed 'W.Elliott' and indistinctly dated (lower right)
oil on canvas
61 x 91.4cm. (24 x 36in.)


  • Provenance :
    Lord Queenborough (according to an old label on reverse).

    Exhibited :
    Royal Academy, 1787, no. 394.

    Almeric Hugh Paget, the 1st Baron Queenborough, was born in 1861, the younger son of General Lord Alfred Paget who was, in turn, the fifth son of Field Marshal, the 1st Marquis of Anglesey, a celebrated Napoleonic War soldier, a veteran of the battle of Waterloo and a close friend of the ‘Iron’ Duke of Wellington. After being educated in England at Harrow School, young Almeric Paget emigrated to the United States where he lived for many years, first ranching and farming in the North-West of the country, and later moving to New York where he became a prominent member of the business community. A director of several large commercial enterprises in the city, he also became President of the Chihuahua and Pacific Railroad and took as his first wife – in 1895 – Pauline, the daughter of the American Secretary of State for the Navy, William C. Whitney. Subsequently returning home to England, Paget was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1909 and served as Member of Parliament for Cambridge from 1910 until resigning his seat in 1917. Created Baron Queenborough in 1918 in recognition of his valuable contributions to various administrative positions connected with the successful prosecution of the Great War, he then embarked upon a lengthy second career of public service in numerous arenas including politics, medicine and international affairs. Following the death of his first wife in 1916, he took a second American bride in 1921 when he married Edith, daughter of William Starr Miller of New York. As they were sadly denied children, when Lord Queenborough died in 1949 at the age of 88 the baronetcy created for him became extinct.

    The battle of the Saintes was one of the many naval engagements of the eighteenth century fought amongst the immensely valuable ‘sugar’ islands of the West Indies. Towards the end of the American War of Independence, by which time both France and Spain had allied themselves to the infant United States in the hope of territorial gain at England’s expense, the French campaign in the Caribbean had already been alarmingly successful. When, in the spring of 1782, the French prepared to mount an offensive against the island of Jamaica, Admiral Lord Rodney realised that a regular fleet action was his only means of stopping them. The French fleet, under the Comte de Grasse, sailed from Fort Royal, Martinique, on 8th April; Rodney soon intercepted it and a partial engagement took place the following day. To begin with de Grasse had the advantage but lost it, and the battle quickly developed into a running fight lasting three days. On the morning of 12th April, Rodney finally brought the French to action off Les Saintes, a group of small islands situated in the channel between Guadeloupe and Dominica. Initially adopting the traditional strategy, Rodney then astonished the French by piercing their line of battle in two places and throwing them into utter confusion. Before long their flagship, the 104-gun 'Ville de Paris', was surrounded and forced to surrender, and although de Grasse’s second-in-command escaped with a small number of ships, it was nevertheless a decisive defeat for the French and saved the precious island of Jamaica from invasion.

    Although E.H.H. Archibald states in his 'Dictionary of Sea Painters' (Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge, 3rd Edition, 2000, p. 151) that “the confusion as to which of the William Elliotts in the Royal Navy was the painter has never been satisfactorily resolved,” he then goes on to say that the most probable candidate was the officer of this name who had started his career in the merchant service, later transferred into the Royal Navy and died with the rank of Captain, R.N., in 1838. In point of fact however, that particular officer was not made Lieutenant until 1802 and, having been born only in 1782, cannot possibly be the correct individual. Far more likely is a different and slightly earlier William Elliot[t] who was made Lieutenant in May 1781 and whose death, still holding that rank, was recorded in July 1795, the year after the artist Elliott’s last known work showing H.M.S. ‘Victory’ off Bastia in 1794. It is apparent that Archibald had become confused with the profusion of William Elliotts in the Royal Navy during that period even though, that said, no additional information about the correct officer has been discovered.
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