HMS 'Mercury' cuts out the French gunboat Leda from Rovigno, 1 April 1809

One of a pair commemorating actions in the Adriatic by the frigate 'Mercury', 28 guns, under Captain the Hon. Henry Duncan: the other is BHC0592. On the evening of 1 April 1809, Duncan sent in his ship's boats commanded by Lieutenant Watkin Owen Pell, under heavy fire, to cut the French gunboat 'Leda' out of the French-held harbour of Rovigno, on the Istrian peninsula 40 miles south-south-west of Trieste. Five men were killed in the action. This picture shows the boats of the 'Mercury' under sail, headed by her launch, rounding the mole enclosing the harbour as they make their way with their prize back to the 'Mercury'. The 'Leda' is shown under her courses (lower sails) only, with her topmasts sent down. At the peak of the gaff she flies English colours over an indeterminate white flag with a red central element. French fire from batteries to the left, on the landward side of the harbour, pursues the escaping convoy. The lateen yards of local boats can be seen above the mole behind, with two others on the far right under the shore where there is also another French fort or major building. The painting is signed in black, lower right, and was originally on stretched canvas. It has been removed from the stretcher and mounted on a grey softboard, with the tacking edges trimmed off, perhaps as an alternative to lining to repair a tear in the canvas, left centre. The process, fairly common at the time the picture was acquired in 1954, is no longer widely used. The blue crayon inscription of the acquisition number and the event on the back in Teddy Archibald's hand suggests this was probably done in the Museum. [PvdM 7/08]

Object Details

ID: BHC0589
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Huggins, William John
Events: Napoleonic Wars: Rovigno, 1809
Vessels: Mercury 1779
Date made: After 1809
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 460 mm x 610 mm x 10 mm; Frame: 600 mm x 750 mm x 70 mm

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