The Death of Nelson by Daniel Maclise


The Death of Nelson


Daniel Maclise

Ref GM3941
Type Fine Art Print
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The Death of Nelson is a wall painting in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster in London, England by the Irish artist Daniel Maclise. A finished study for it, in the form of a painting, is in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England. Maclise received the commission for two wall paintings in the Royal Gallery in 1857; these were to depict The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher and The Death of Nelson. However Maclise found that creating the works in fresco would prove too difficult, and he resigned the commission. He then discovered the waterglass technique (infusing the surface with sodium silicate) and resumed the commission. Maclise started work on The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher in January 1860 and completed it during the winter of 1861. He then submitted a sketch for The Death of Nelson to the Fine Arts Commission. However Prince Albert, the prime promoter of the Commission, died in 1861 and the Commission lost some of its momentum. It was not until 1863 that Maclise received permission to continue with the scheme. Between 1859 and 1864 Maclise created a plan for this picture; this was a painting that comprised a "finished study" for the work. This painting was purchased by the Walker Art Gallery in 1892 from the Art Union of London; the money for this was obtained from the Liverpool Naval Exhibition. The wall paintings did not survive well; by 1869 the colours were fading. However modern critics continue to praise "their serious and sombre realism and their expressive power". The painting shows the dying Admiral Nelson on the deck of HMS Victory, cradled in the arms of Captain Hardy, with other figures, including Dr Beatty, leaning over him. They are surrounded by members of the crew. Maclise took trouble over the accuracy of details in the picture; he interviewed survivors of the battle and researched the naval equipment in use at the time. However the painting is not an accurate account of the event, because Nelson was quickly taken below decks, where he died; it is rather an idealisation of the event.