The 'Victory' Raking the Spanish 'Salvador del Mundo' at the Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February, 1797

This painting is one of a pair with BHC0486, showing the Battle of St Vincent, 14 February 1797. The pair clearly relate to a pair of watercolours exhibited at the RA in 1798 and now in a private collection.

The end of the year 1796 found the British forced to abandon the Mediterranean, since Admiral Sir John Jervis's Mediterranean fleet was outnumbered in ships of the line by 38 to 13. Early in 1797, however, the French and Spanish fleets were separated without having followed up their advantage. On 1 February Admiral Don José de Cordova left Cartagena for Cadiz with 27 of the line. Jervis, whose fleet had been reduced to ten of the line determined to intercept him but before that happened he was reinforced by Rear-Admiral William Parker with five of the line. In the event, the performance of the British ships more than made up for the disparity in numbers and four of the Spaniards, including two first-rates, were taken.

The painting shows the commencement of the action, at the point when the 'Victory', 100 guns, raked the 'Salvador del Mundo', 112 guns, causing her to strike her flag. The 'Salvador del Mundo' is shown in the right foreground, in starboard-bow view, her stern swathed in the smoke of the 'Victory's' broadside, from which protrudes the port bow of that ship. In the left background a group of ships, in starboard-quarter view, bear down upon the enemy, while in the right background another group is in action.

The painting is signed and dated 1798. The artist was the son of John Clevely the Elder and the twin brother of John Clevely the Younger. Both brothers became painters having worked in Deptford Royal Dockyard. He was appointed Draughtsman to Prince William fourth Duke of Clarence (later William IV) and then became Marine Painter to George, the Prince Regent (later George IV). He specialized in battle scenes such as this and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1780 to 1803. The Museum holds more than thirty of his drawings.

Object Details

ID: BHC0485
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Cleveley, Robert
Events: French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of Cape St Vincent, 1797
Date made: 1798
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Painting: 1067 x 1600 mm; Frame: 1307 x 1852 x 107 mm

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