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'Death of Lord Nelson, Trafalgar Octr 21 1805'

Prints, drawings and watercolours

Object connections:

Collection Prints, drawings and watercolours, Fine art
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Nelson, Horatio
EventsNapoleonic Wars: Battle of Trafalgar, 1805

Object details:

Object ID PAD4093
Description A print after the 1807 painting, ‘The Death of Nelson, 21 October 1805’, by Devis, BHC2894, though not the original one, which was engraved by William Bromley and published in 1812. The central image shows the scene in the cockpit on the ‘Victory’ during the Battle of Trafalgar, as Nelson lay dying. Nelson reclines full-length facing to the left, covered by a sheet, with only his head, left shoulder and arm visible, and his uniform coat discarded at his feet. In the centre at the back ‘Victory’s’ captain, Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, stands over him, his cocked hat in his left hand, his right hand on the ship’s knee against which Nelson lies. Walter Burke, the purser, supports Nelson’s pillow immediately in his right, and is shown half-length to left wearing (in the painting) a brown coat and red waistcoat. Next right is Nelson’s steward, William Chevailler, in a white shirt, looking towards the surgeon, Dr William Beatty. Beatty is shown in left profile kneeling beside Nelson and feeling for the pulse in his left wrist. On the left of Nelson, his chaplain, Dr Alexander Scott, rubs his chest to relieve the pain with an unidentified figure standing holding a lantern behind him. On the far left of the picture are Lieutenant John Yule and Midshipman Edward Collingwood, both looking left, out of the picture. Collingwood helps a sailor to handle some captured flags with Gaetano Spedillo, Nelson's Neapolitan valet, in profile to the right in front of him, in a brown coat and holding the glass from which Nelson took his last sips of water in his left hand. On the far right are the seated figures of Lieutenant George Miller Bligh and Assistant Surgeon Neil Smith, the former half hidden by a marine in the foreground. Bligh is shown facing to the left, apparently dazed from a wound in his head, with his left hand on a wound in his side. Looking towards the dying Nelson, in the right background, stands the ship’s carpenter, Willam Bunce, slightly masked by Smith and Bligh. He is almost full-length to the left in profile and holds his hat in his right hand. Originally painted two years after the event, this complex image concentrates on the human response of the men involved to this important event in the life of the nation. To evoke this, the artist used portraiture and incorporated the conventions of Renaissance religious painting, the composition recalling many representations of Christ’s deposition from the Cross. The vignettes in the margin of the print represent Nelson standing full-length on the deck of the ‘Victory’, with a sailor and rigging behind him on the left. On the right two sailors stand by a cannon and a third blows a trumpet. The image on the bottom shows the Battle of Trafalgar in progress.
Date made circa 1840

Artist/Maker Rogers, John
John Tallis & Co.
Devis, after Arthur William
Devis, Arthur William
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Caird Fund.
Materials engraving
Measurements 191 mm x 285 mm
  • 'Death of Lord Nelson, Trafalgar Octr 21 1805' (PAD4093)
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