Forcing a passage up the Hudson River, 9 October 1776

The painting is a copy after the original rendering of the subject, a scene from the American Revolutionary War, by Dominic Serres the Elder. It shows HMS ‘Phoenix’, ‘Roebuck’ and ‘Tartar’, accompanied by two smaller vessels, forcing their way through a cheval-de-frise on the Hudson River with the Forts Washington and Lee and several batteries on both sides. The original painting was commissioned from Serres by the family of Hyde Parker, captain of the ‘Phoenix’ and commander of the mission to regain control over the waterway and cut Washington’s lines of communication across it.

The painting combines elements of landscape and marine painting unified by the effects of gun smoke and clouds. In the foreground the river takes the full breadth of the picture. Upstream between the wooded banks the ships are breaching the obstruction in the water by forcing its junction with the shore on the right.

Object Details

ID: BHC0420
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Mitchell, Thomas
Events: American War of Independence, 1775-1783
Vessels: Phoenix (1759); Roebuck (1774) Tartar (1756)
Date made: 18th century; Forcing a passage of the Hudson River, 9 October 1776
People: Royal Navy; United States Navy
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Painting: 710 mm x 1170 mm

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