Oil paintings, Fine art, Maritime Art Greenwich

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The Bombardment of Sveaborg, 9 August 1855

BHC0636
Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art, Maritime Art Greenwich
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: UK: Navy
Depiction: France: Navy
EventsCrimea War, 1854-1856
Publication(s)Treasures of the National Maritime Museum
Gloria Clifton and Nigel Rigby
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Object details:

Object ID BHC0636
Description A depiction of the Bombardment of Sveaborg, the culmination of the Anglo-French fleet's operations in the Baltic in the second season of the Russian (Crimean) War, 1854-56. Sveaborg was a fortress guarding the route between St Petersburg and the Baltic Sea, and Helsinki to the east. On 6 August 1855, the Anglo-French fleet led by Admirals Richard S. Dundas in the 'Duke of Wellington' and Charles Penaud in the 'Tourville' arrived at Sveaborg and anchored in formation at an appropriate distance from the fortress, where its outdated guns could not reach them. On the morning of 9 August, they began shelling the fortress. Considerable damage was inflicted on the dockyard and enemy ships and stores. Despite the severity of the bombardment and fire, the action served little military purpose. Public opinion at home was satisfied but the effect on the course of the war against Russia was negligible. The painting depicts the scene from the rear of the action, showing explosions and smoke rings from mortar fire. The largest ships of the fleet are anchored in deep water to the rear, behind a row of steam frigates and sloops acting as support and supply ships. In the shallower water a line of mortar boats carried out the main part of the attack. Across the foreground, men in open boats and standing on rocks wave their hats and cheer at the explosions. To the left are four ships of the line, the 'Belle-Isle', 'Duke of Wellington', 'Tourville' (French) all in port-bow view, then the 'Edinburgh' in the foreground in starboard-bow view and the paddle steamer 'Dragon' in starboard-quarter view beyond her bow. The rigging of all these ships is full of cheering sailors. To the right are more boats and a French paddle steamer, in starboard-quarter view, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Penaud. Beyond, also in starboard-quarter view, is the paddle steamer 'Merlin', with Rear-Admiral Dundas on board. Other boats and steamers are visible, whilst the Russian forts spectacularly explode. The artist visited the Baltic for three months during 1855, making drawings of the campaign for 'The Illustrated London News', and for subsequent paintings such as this one. The flat compositional characteristic of the work and its clear linear quality reflect his graphic training. The British ships, 'Duke of Wellington', 'Belle-Isle', 'Edinburgh', 'Geyser', 'Dragon', 'Vulture' and 'Merlin', are listed on the bottom of the frame. The painting has been signed by the artist and is dated 1855.
Date made 1855

Artist/Maker Carmichael, John Wilson
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 1530 x 3060 mm; Frame: 1965 mm x 3500 mm x 180 mm
Parts
  • The Bombardment of Sveaborg, 9 August 1855 (BHC0636)
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