The Hero of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805

A print after the painting titled ‘Trafalgar’ by William Overend (1851-98), who died just before it was exhibited (as by 'the late' artist) at the Royal Academy in 1898. The print was published in the ‘Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News’, 1905, with the title ‘ “The Hero of Trafalgar" Nelson on Board the Victory, October 21st 1805’. In common with other images of Nelson during the same period, the quotation is taken from Robert Southey’s , ‘Life of Nelson’ (1814), which was reprinted throughout the 19th century. The painting also had the inscription:

‘He wore that day as usual, his Admiral’s frock-coat bearing on the left breast 4 stars of the different orders with which he was invested. Ornaments which rendered him so conspicuous a mark for the enemy were beheld with ominous apprehension by his officers; it could not be doubted but that his life would be particularly aimed at. They entreated him to change his dress, or cover his stars, but Nelson replied : ‘In honour I gained them, and in honour I will die with them’….About a quarter after one a ball struck the epaulette on his left shoulder. – Southey.’

As the quotation indicates, Nelson is shown standing on the right on the deck of the ‘Victory’, looking fixedly and determinedly ahead while the activity of battle rages around him. Overend .was an American-born marine and military painter, who latterly worked in England as an illustrator for the ‘Illustrated London News’ and exhibited at the Academy on several occasions from 1872. He also illustrated a number of adventure books for boys particularly focusing on the Empire, including those by G. A. Henty. His unusual second name is sometimes found as Heysham, Huysman, Heysman or Heysmann: the Museum is not currently sure (January 2020) which is correct since its database version originally used 'Heysman' but this has been subsequently changed without a note of the reason being made. [PvdM 1/20]

Object Details

ID: PAI6141
Collection: Fine art
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Overend, William Heysham
Events: Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Trafalgar, 1805
Date made: 1891; 1898 1898/ 1905
People: Nelson, Horatio
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 529 x 795 mm

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