Capture of the 'Gypsy', 30 April 1812

The ‘Gypsy’, an American schooner fitted out as a privateer, was on her way from New York to Bordeaux with a valuable cargo when she was captured in the mid-Atlantic after a three-day chase. In the left foreground is the ‘Belle Poule’, starboard broadside view. To the right and beyond, off her port bow is the ‘Gypsy’, still firing at the ‘Belle Poule’, but with her ensign being struck at the same time. In the right background is the ‘Hermes’, port bow view. For dramatic effect the artist has set the scene of the chase in a stormy setting with dark clouds and waves.

Thomas Butterworth, to whom this painting has been (somewhat optimistically) attributed, was born on the Isle of Wight on 5 May 1768. Like many other marine painters, Buttersworth was a seaman who recorded his experiences in paint and charcoal. He was appointed Marine Painter to the East India Company and added commissioned ship portraits to his prolific output of naval battle scenes. Despite his relative success, Buttersworth exhibited few paintings during his lifetime. It was long thought that he had died in 1830 but it was confirmed that he was still alive in 1842, painting Queen Victoria’s visit to Edinburgh in that year. He died in London in November 1842.

Object Details

ID: BHC0597
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Buttersworth, Thomas
Vessels: Belle Poule (captured 1806); Hermes (1811) Gypsy fl.1812
Date made: 19th century
People: Royal Navy; America
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Macpherson Collection
Measurements: Painting: 458 x 617 x 11 mm

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