Battle of Trafalgar at 2.30pm by William Lionel Wyllie



Title

Battle of Trafalgar at 2.30pm

Artist

William Lionel Wyllie

Ref GM132
Type Fine Art Print
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Description  
The Battle of Trafalgar was one of the most crucial encounters of the Napoleonic Wars, and perhaps the most famous victory in British naval history. In 1805, Napoleon was as keen as ever to launch an invasion of England; but the Royal Navy’s firm grip on the English Channel, coupled with its crippling blockade on France, made this for the moment impossible. With an eye to ending Britain’s domination of the seas, Napoleon assembled a joint Franco-Spanish fleet that was to assist the fleet at Brest to emerge from blockade, before clearing the English Channel for the French invasion barges. This plan was thwarted on October 21. Led by the inspirational Lord Nelson, 27 ships of the Royal Navy won a spectacular victory against an enemy whose numerical strength was far greater. More than 30,000 men stood against Nelson’s force of just 17,000; yet, incredibly, the latter captured or destroyed 22 enemy vessels, without the loss of a single British ship. Nelson was killed by a French sniper in the late afternoon; but not without having secured his own heroic status, and a hugely significant victory. British naval dominance remained unchallenged for more than a century, and Napoleon’s dreams of invasion were never to be revived. This painting is one of the very most famous depictions of the Battle of Trafalgar. It was first unveiled at the Royal Academy in 1905 to celebrate Trafalgar’s centenary, and soon came to be regarded as the definitive representation of the battle. A print was almost immediately published by Benrose & Co. to meet popular demand, and the painting enjoyed the public spotlight once again at the bicentenary of Trafalgar, in 2005. This remarkable work currently resides at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.