Ships of the English fleet fighting the Armada in 1588: plate 9 White Bear at anchor
This portrait of White Bear belongs to a series of ten ship portraits and naval battle scenes commemorating the Battle of the Armada. It was probably engraved some years after the event. The second state, with plate numbers lower centre, was published by Claes Jansz. Visscher in the early 1600s. Although the ship portraits are inaccurate, they give a good idea of the kind of vessels engaged in the campaign, while the battle scenes depict the English navy as a potent and highly organised force against the might of the Armada. The National Maritime Museum owns an impression of each numbered plate, as well as first state, unnumbered impressions of four of the battle scenes, making a total of fourteen prints in the collection. White Bear is shown at anchor, facing right, a rowing boat pulling away from her port side and a seal in the sea lower right. This engraving was exhibited in ‘Armada 1588-1988: An International Exhibition to Commemorate the Spanish Armada’, National Maritime Museum 1988 and Ulster Museum 1989, plate 8.35. The naval battle scenes are thought to derive from Hendrick Cornelisz. Vroom’s designs for the Armada tapestries, which were commissioned by Lord Howard of Effingham in 1588 and manufactured in Delft by Francis Spierincx between 1592 and 1595. There are many correspondences with Bartolomeus Willemsz. Dolendo’s illustrations for Jan Jansz. Orlers and Hendrik Lodewijcxsz. Haestens, ‘Den Nassauschen Lauren-crans’ (Leiden, 1610). Plate 10 in Visscher’s series is particularly close to a plate in Orlers inscribed in Latin ‘Classis Hispanica celebessima, quae anno celebissimo. M.D.L.XXXVIII. inter Galliam Britaniamque venit et peryt’ (The celebrated Spanish fleet which in the famous year 1588 came and perished between France and England).
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