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Sinking of the 'Scharnhorst' at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, 8 December 1914

BHC0655
Oil paintings

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Object ID BHC0655
Description On 1 November 1914, the German Far-Eastern squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral von Spee was brought to battle by an ill-assorted British force commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, off Coronel on the coast of Chile. After a decisive victory for the German squadron it was decided that there was no future for cruiser warfare and von Spee was ordered to take his squadron home. He decided to make one call on the way at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands to destroy the radio station and take the Governor prisoner, as an act of a reprisal for the British capture of the German governor of Samoa. He was confronted there by a superior British force send out to avenge the catastrophe of Coronel under Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Doveton-Sturdee in the 'Invincible'. The main targets for the British ships were the 'Scharnhorst', commanded by von Spee and 'Gneisenau' and this task was allotted to the two battlecruisers. The 'Invincible' concentrated on the former and the 'Inflexible' on the latter. After four hours, the 'Scharnhorst' capsized and sank with no survivors, the dead including von Spee and his two sons. An hour later the 'Gneisenau' also sank. Only the 'Dresden' managed to escape. On the left of the picture is 'Scharnhorst', in port-bow view, listing to port and sinking by the stern, her bow out of the water. She is on fire aft and about to capsize, smoke pouring from the fires and her funnels over the starboard side. In the extreme right background, the smoke and gun flashes of the 'Invincible' and 'Inflexible', commanded by Captain Redare Beamish. The British-born artist lived in Valparaiso, Chile, where he ran a painting school from 1874 to 1892, when he returned to England. In 1893, he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy but kept his contacts in Chile and subsequently made a number of visits there.
Date made circa 1915

Artist/Maker Somerscales, Thomas Jacques
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 660 mm x 1138 mm x 31 mm;Painting: 610 mm x 1092 mm
Parts
  • Sinking of the 'Scharnhorst' at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, 8 December 1914 (BHC0655)
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