Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott


Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson


Lemuel Francis Abbott

Ref GM129
Type Fine Art Print
Image Size 18" x 22" (46 x 56 cm)
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Horatio Nelson is one of the most imposing and celebrated figures in British military history, responsible for some of the nation’s greatest victories of the Napoleonic era. Born in Norfolk in 1758, he joined the navy at the age of twelve and, despite perpetual problems with seasickness, enjoyed a swift progression through the ranks. He was presented with a serious setback when he lost the sight in his right eye in 1794, but went on to win a famous victory at the Battle of St. Vincent in 1797. Later that year, his right arm was amputated after a gunshot wound; again, this could not impede his brilliance, and 1798 saw the Battle of the Nile, a crucial win over Napoleon. Nelson’s finest hour, however, was of course the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where he destroyed a larger Franco-Spanish fleet without the loss of a single British ship. Nelson was killed aboard HMS Victory towards the close of the battle; yet by this stage he had already ensured a magnificent triumph, and his own place as Britain’s greatest naval hero. Nelson gave the artist two sittings in the autumn of 1797, while staying with his friend William Locker, Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital, during his convalescence from the amputation of his arm. The many portraits of Nelson by Abbott are the result of Locker’s wish for a companion piece for the 1781 portrait by John Francis Rigaud. This particular work, perhaps the most well-known portrait of Nelson, was commissioned in 1799 by the editor of the Naval Chronicle to be engraved as an illustration, and was probably based on a sketch that Abbott had retained in his studio. It currently resides in the Greenwich Hospital Collection of the National Maritime Museum.