HMS 'Southampton' on the morning of the Battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916

Signed in red, 'Oscar Parkes', lower right and painted on a canvas with a 'George Rowney' supplier's stamp. 'Southampton' was one of the third batch of Town-class light cruisers, her sister ships being HMS 'Dublin' and 'Chatham', though with different machinery. She had an extremely active First World War service as flagship of the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet, participating in the Battles of Heligoland Bight and the Dogger Bank. At Jutland she was flagship of Commodore W. E. Goodenough, commanding the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, and torpedoed the German light cruiser 'Frauenlob', which subsequently sank. By 1917 she had moved to the 8th Light Cruiser Squadron and, after being sold for scrapping in July 1926, was broken up at Pembroke Dock.

Parkes (1885-1958) was the son of a Birmingham doctor, and himself became a surgeon at the General Hospital there before becoming one in the Navy in February 1915. Towards the end of the First World War he served in the Naval Intelligence Division at the Admiralty and was present (in the 'Agincourt') at the internment of the German High Seas Fleet. In 1919 was awarded the OBE for his medical war service, became an official naval artist and director of the naval photographic section at the new Imperial War Museum; also, before giving up his commission for civilian life in 1920, he was appointed editor of the annual 'Jane's Fighting Ships', a post he held from 1918 to 1935. Between the wars he continued to practise as a doctor in Knightsbridge, and was for a time an adviser in neurology to the Ministry of Pensions. In 1943 he moved to Ringwood, Hants, still as a doctor, including for a time on the staff of Fordingbridge Hospital. Six months before his death he retired from medical practice and went to live in Northern Ireland, where he had been appointed a director of a publishing company. Besides his work as editor of 'Jane's', he published many articles on naval history and was a very capable marine artist, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. He died suddenly at his home in Co. Down on 24 June 1958, aged 72. This painting is a good and typical example of Parkes's work, purchased in 1982. It is essentially a fairly standard ship portrait in a long tradition of them and the only thing connecting it with the Battle of Jutland is the received title (presumably original). Were that lacking, and despite the fact that her aft guns are trained out to starboard (viewer's left) it would simply be a good picture of the ship in a well-rendered moderate sea. She is also shown with a crowsnest added on her reduced-height foremast.

Object Details

ID: BHC3871
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Parkes, Oscar
Events: World War I: Battle of Jutland, 1916; World War I, 1914-1918
Vessels: Southampton (1912)
Date made: Early - Mid 20th century
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 760 mm x 1015 mm x 22 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.