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Repulse of the French in Frigate Bay, St Kitts, 26 January 1782

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings
Gallery locationNot on display
EventsAmerican War of Independence: Battle of Saint Kitts, 1782

Object details:

Object ID BHC0437
Description (Updated, March 2015) The Battle of Frigate Bay was an action during the War of American Independence (American Revolutionary War). Also known as the Battle of St Kitts, it took place between a British fleet under Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood and the superior French West Indies fleet under the Comte de Grasse. The French attacked the British islands of St Kitts and Nevis in January 1782 and Hood - who was attempting to relieve the island on which De Grasse had already landed 6000 French troops- defended the subsequent fleet assault by mooring his ships in an L-shaped formation across the mouth of Frigate Bay with his flagship 'Barfleur' at the apex of the L, as shown - though not very clearly-in this aerial view. This forced the French to face the broadsides of either one or other part of his fleet, whichever way they tried to attack, and they were driven off. However, despite this, Hood failed to relieve the island. On the left the guns of French fleet fire towards the British ships as it makes its attack on the morning of 26 January. In the distance on the left the Union flag is flying over Brimstone Hill which was the last British outpost on the island, falling to the French on 13 February. The longer-term naval significance of Hood's defence, which in essence reprised Barrington's more successful one at St Lucia in 1778, was that the French attempted a similar tactic at Aboukir Bay, Egypt, in 1798 after landing Napoleon's army there: in that case it failed, both because the French had left space between the head of their line and the shore to be outflanked and because Nelson, who defeated them there, was of different calibre in terms of the risks he was prepared to take than most admirals of the previous generation - though Hood, under whom he had served, was certainly an exception. The view in this topographically detailed painting appears to be looking north from the north-western heights of the island of Nevis, across the Narrows towards St Kitts, with the Dutch island of St Eustatius in the far distance. Thomas Maynard (b. 1752) exhibited portraits at the Royal Academy in years between 1777 and 1812, but very few are now recorded. Nothing else substantial is yet known about him but no other artist of the name is known and this painting is signed and dated ‘Thos Maynard, pinx 1783’: it is, so far, the only recorded non-portrait subject by him.
Date made 1783

Artist/Maker Maynard, Thomas
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 508 mm x 1016 mm; Frame: 615 mm x 1130 mm x 60 mm
  • Repulse of the French in Frigate Bay, St Kitts, 26 January 1782 (BHC0437)
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