The Capture of Chandernagore, March 1757

Lying ten miles up river from Calcutta, Chandernagore was the administrative centre of the French East India Company. The battle there was one of the many fought between the French and English on the sub-continent during the Seven Years War, 1759-63. It gave the East India Company effective control of Calcutta and the Bengal hinterland. Britain finished the war as the dominant European power in India, and was well-placed to take advantage of the weakening political and economic power of the Mughal Empire. Chandernagore’s capture after a ten-day bombardment by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Clive and Rear-Admiral Watson was the first step in the British driving the French from Bengal. The French who escaped took shelter with the Nawab, whom Clive shortly afterwards defeated at Plassey. This ended the French influence in Bengal.

This painting commemorates the event some 14 years later. It shows Watson’s ships, ‘Kent’, ‘Tiger’ and ‘Salisbury’ firing on the town and fort from an anchored position. The action is close to land and the buildings along the shoreline are clearly identifiable. The leading ship, the ‘Tiger’ is on the right of the picture, and in the centre is the ‘Kent’ with a couple of boats under her stern. It is flying Rear-Admiral Watson’s flag on the foremast and a red flag giving the signal to the ships to engage at the main. Both these ships are firing on the fort and on the far left the ‘Salisbury’ is also firing on the town. The effect of the smoke from the guns and fires can be seen blowing over the land to the right. It is signed and dated ‘D. Serres.1771’.

Object Details

ID: BHC0378
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Serres, Dominic
Events: Seven Years' War, 1756-1763
Date made: 1771
People: Leedham White, Mrs
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Measurements: Frame: 1381 mm x 2081 mm x 85 mm;Overall: 60.2 kg;Painting: 1143 mm x 1828 mm

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