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The Capture of the slaver Gabriel by HMS Acorn, 6 July 1841

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: UK: Navy
VesselsAcorn (1838), Gabriel (c 1835)

Object details:

Object ID BHC0628
Description The ‘Acorn’ brig was one of the British West Africa Squadron, established in 1808 in order to enforce the suppression of the Atlantic slave trade, following the British Act of Abolition the previous year. In early July 1841 ‘Acorn’ spotted the ‘Gabriel’, an Iberian pirate vessel, gaining on the British barque ‘India’, which was carrying migrants to Australia. A contemporary report in the ‘Journal du Havre’ described the capture of the ‘Gabriel’, as communicated by one Captain Blay of the ‘Jeune Pauline’, who had just arrived at Le Havre from Rio de Janeiro: The English brig Acorn having, in lat. 5.N perceived at great distance a vessel pillaging another, made chase, and instantly the Gabriel hoisted all her sail, and endeavoured to escape. At three in the afternoon the Acorn fired, and the Gabriel returned the fire, at the same time hoisting Portuguese colours. The chase continued for 12 hours, during the whole of which time firing was kept up by both vessels, but eventually the Gabriel was dismasted, and captured. She was sent to St Helena, but her crew, consisting of fifty-eight men, Spaniards and others, were put on board an English vessel at Rio. The captain jumped overboard during the chase, with all his papers. The merchandise found on board the Gabriel was valued at 8000 pounds. The Acorn had not time to ascertain to what country the vessel which was being pillaged by the Gabriel belonged, but she carried English colours. Condy’s painting shows the moment early in the chase when the two vessels in full sail have opened fire on one another; but it is still a matter of suspense whether the pirate vessel will be taken or will escape. A print was produced after the painting, ‘H.M. Brig Acorn 16 Guns in Chase of the Piratical Slaver Gabriel’ (PAG9194) though it is clear from the above account that the ‘Gabriel’ was not carrying a slave cargo on this occasion. Nonetheless, the picture shares the same moral message as many other marine paintings of this period, showing British Navy vessels in action against slave ships (see, for example, BHC0625). It is signed ‘N. M. Condy’ on the floating debris in the foreground.
Date made 1841

Artist/Maker Condy, Nicolas Matthew
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Macpherson Collection
Materials oil on artists board
Measurements Frame: 520 mm x 625 mm x 90 mm;Painting: 305 mm x 405 mm
  • The Capture of the slaver Gabriel by HMS Acorn, 6 July 1841 (BHC0628)
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