HMS 'Revenge' leaving harbour

One of a group of eleven oil paintings by Eurich, an official war artist, allocated to the National Maritime Museum after the Second World War.

HMS 'Revenge', a battleship of the North Atlantic escort force, is portrayed top right, sailing out of Portsmouth harbour with a destroyer in escort. The artist has used aerial perspective to create both a dramatic image and to demonstrate the extent of bomb damage to the city. The ship, sleek and serene, is lined with sailors on its decks, as together with its escort it leaves the harbour. They are surrounded by a blaze of brilliant light to signify hope and act as a contrast with the scene ashore.

Portsmouth suffered considerable war damage during the blitzes of 1941 and to record these is the main purpose of the painting. Based on first-hand observation, Eurich also used photographs to create this impression of the effects of war. With a sense of the morning after, smoke rises like mist from the still smouldering ruins, where foreground buildings have been hit by bombs leaving few intact, and jagged angles of windows and metal. A man stands on the wall to the far right in the foreground, looking out at the 'Revenge' leaving the devastation behind. The tall chimneys in the far left remain standing and most of the buildings of Old Portsmouth, on Portsmouth Point in the left distance, are also intact.

The sign 'Sailor's Rest' is visible to the bottom right, and on the wall of another building in the foreground the letter 'V' for victory is scratched on a wall. Nearby, the words 'Good Old Bubbles', refer to the nickname of the well-respected wartime Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth, Admiral Sir William 'Bubbles' James (He gained the nickname as a child through being the model for his grandfather's, Sir John Everett Millais, painting of that title later used as an advertisement by Pears' Soap.)

Barrage balloons are shown flying over the damaged city and its vulnerability is contrasted with the metal strength of the battleship. There is an irony too in the name, 'Revenge', as if the ship is going out to sea to seek revenge for the destruction of Portsmouth.

Object Details

ID: BHC1571
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Eurich, Richard Ernst
Vessels: Revenge (1805)
Date made: 1942
Exhibition: War Artists at Sea
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1947
Measurements: Painting: 762 mm x 1270 mm; Frame: 916 mm x 1422 mm x 65 mm

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