Oil paintings, Fine art, Maritime Art Greenwich

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Captain George Miller Bligh, circa 1780-1834

BHC2562
Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art, Maritime Art Greenwich
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Bligh, Captain George Miller
Artist: Brown, Mather
Provenance: Cottle, Ernest Wyndham
VesselsVictory (1765)

Object details:

Object ID BHC2562
Description A half-length facing portrait to the left in captain's (over three years) undress uniform, 1795-1812, with gold epaulettes. George Miller Bligh was the only son of Admiral Richard Rodney Bligh (1737–1821). He joined the Navy in 1794, entering his father’s ship, the 74-gun ‘Alexander’, as a midshipman. The ‘Alexander’ was captured by a French squadron on 6 November that year and Bligh spent six months as a prisoner of war before making his escape. His father was cleared of any blame for the ship's loss. Further service followed before he was promoted lieutenant on 6 March 1801, while in the ‘Endymion’ (40 guns). In 1804, he was in Nelson’s flagship, ‘Victory’, and saw action at Trafalgar, where he was wounded in the head and shot in the chest. Fortunate to survive, Bligh was in the ship’s cockpit when Nelson died; he is depicted in Devis’s ‘The death of Nelson…’ (BHC2894). Bligh was sufficiently recovered to take part in Nelson’s funeral. He was promoted commander on 25 January 1806 and appointed to the sloop ‘Pylades’. He stayed in command of her for three years, notably capturing the French privateer ‘Grand Napoleon’ on 2 May 1808. Bligh was made post-captain on 27 December the following year, returning to Britain in the 56-gun ‘Glatton’, an ex-East Indiaman. He then commanded the 18-gun sloop ‘Acorn’, seeing action in the Mediterranean. His final naval appointment was in 1814 to the 36-gun ‘Araxes’ on the Jamaica station. He returned to Britain in July 1816 and the ‘Araxes’ was paid off. He married Catherine Haynes on 2 December 1817. Bligh died in Southampton in 1834. The artist was an American-born painter who worked in England. Initially he was a free student of Benjamin West and was then admitted as a student to the Royal Academy in January 1782, where he showed 80 paintings altogether. Despite his phenomenal early success, Brown fell on hard times and was disinherited by his father. He then concentrated on creating large unsaleable religious and historical subjects. In 1809 Brown left London to live and work in Bath, Bristol and Lancashire. He returned to London in 1824 and died there in poverty, in a room crowded with unsold paintings. The painting has been signed by the artist.
Date made 1812

Artist/Maker Brown, Mather
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 762 mm x 635 mm; Frame: 930 mm x 805 mm x 95 mm
Parts
  • Captain George Miller Bligh, circa 1780-1834 (BHC2562)
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