'Britannia rules the waves' [Britannia]

Oval pendant in watercolour in a gilt metal suspension locket. It bears the design of a rocky shore to the right, on which stands the full-length figure of Britannia in a plumed helmet and blue cloak, bearing an oval shield in the form of the pre-1801 Union flag (but on a white ground), in her right hand and a spear held upright in her left. At sea to the left two warships are engaged in close combat, the nearer one flying the British blue ensign. The other, partly obscured beyond, flies the Dutch flag. Round the top is the inscription 'BRITANNIA RULES THE WAVES'.

The pre-1801 Union form on the shield, the presence of a Dutch ship in the background (though not in a fleet action), and the blue ensign, suggest this piece of costume jewellery might refer to either the Battle of the Dogger Bank in 1781 or the Battle of Camperdown in October 1797, both against the Dutch. In both the British commanders (Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and Admiral Adam Duncan) were flag officers of the blue squadron at the time.

Object Details

ID: MNT0070
Collection: Fine art
Type: Pendant
Display location: Not on display
Creator: unidentified
Date made: circa 1781-98
People: Anonymous; Britannia
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 52 x 40 mm

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