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Captain Justinian Nutt, 1700-57

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art, Maritime Art Greenwich
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Nutt, Justinian

Object details:

Object ID BHC2915
Description (Updated, January 2017) A half-length portrait slightly to left in captain's undress uniform, 1748-67, and white wig. The portrait is set in a plain background inside a painted oval. The sitter was master of the 'Centurion' on Anson's voyage around the world, 1739-44, but was made third lieutenant of the ship on 21 June 1743 by Anson (which the Admiralty later confirmed) just after his capture of the treasure galleon 'Nuestra Senora de Covadonga'. This was in the changes necessary for manning the prize, of which Lieutenant Philip Saumarez was given command, when Midshipman the Hon. Augustus Keppel was also promoted to lieutenant and John Campbell, master's mate, replaced Nutt as master of 'Centurion' for the rest of the voyage into 1744: both men later rose to flag rank. In March 1745 Nutt was in command of the 'Tavistock' , sloop, and on 12 August was promoted to post-captain in a French-prize frigate called the 'Grand Turk', 22 guns. In 1748 he was with Admiral Hawke as part of the 'Western Squadron' in the Bay of Biscay, in command of the 'Tavistock', a ship of 50 guns launched in 1747 (when his previous sloop was renamed 'Albany'). In 1749, though intended to command the 'Centurion' , he agreed at Anson's wish to cede this to the younger Keppel and instead take command of the 64-gun 'Anson' (instead of Keppel) which was due to become guardship at Portsmouth. This allowed Keppel, in the role of commodore of a small squadron, to take the ship on which they had all circumnavigated on a mission to the Mediterranean. The exchange was significant for Keppel and even more so for the painter (Sir) Joshua Reynolds, who sailed with him as a friend and guest, on his way to study in Rome: had Nutt remained in command, the course of British art might have been very different given that Reynolds - for whom the journey was career-making - would not have sailed with him. The 'Anson' was Nutt's last sea command and in 1754, perhaps not in very good health, he became one of the four Captains of Greenwich Hospital. This portrait is a pair with one of Nutt's wife (see BHC2916), probably made about the time of and to mark their marriage. She was Elizabeth Cooke of Winchester (b. 1725) and they married at Wickam, Hants, on 10 August 1749 and had two sons: George Anson Nutt (1750- after 1793) and Justinian Saunders Bentley Nutt (1751-1811). Lord and Lady Anson and Sir Peircy Brett (also on Anson's circumnavigation) were godparents to the former. The godfathers of Justinian junior were Captains Charles Saunders and John Bentley, both of whom had been fellow-captains with his father under Hawke. Brett and Bentley were also among Nutt’s executors when he died on 11 December 1757 and may have helped oversee the boys’ education. Mrs Elizabeth Nutt remarried in 1761 to Charles Besson, one of the eight Lieutenants of Greenwich Hospital of whom there is also a miniature in the collection (MNT0120). George Anson Nutt became an army officer: Justinian Nutt junior became an East India Company sea officer. He was sworn in as captain of the East Indiaman 'Duke of Kingston' on 26 May 1779, commanding her until she was burnt off Ceylon on 20 August 1783 during her fourth voyage, and then other India ships (e.g.'Thetis', 1792-93). Four generations of Nutts included a Justinian, and the male descendants were generally in military and sea service for about a century.
Date made circa 1750

Artist/Maker British School, 18th century
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 762 mm x 635 mm; Frame: 960 mm x 804 mm x 80 mm
  • Captain Justinian Nutt, 1700-57 (BHC2915)
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