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Captain Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, 1776-1841

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Broke, Philip Bowes Vere
VesselsRoyal Naval uniform regulations 1812-25: Officers

Object details:

Object ID BHC2575
Description A full-length portrait to the right, showing Broke in his captain’s full dress uniform (over three years) of the 1812–25 pattern. He stands on the quarterdeck of the ‘Shannon’, an American flag beneath his feet and a cannon and a cloud of smoke behind him. In his right hand he carries his sword; his left arm outstretched. A red ensign is draped to the left. Philip Bowes Vere Broke left school aged twelve to join the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth. In June 1792 he was in the sloop ‘Bulldog’ under Captain George Hope. In August 1793, still with Hope, he was in the ‘Éclair’ at the occupation of Toulon and the siege of Bastia. Between May 1794 and June 1795 he was in the ‘Romulus’ before briefly appointed to the ‘Britannia’ and then on 18 July to the frigate ‘Southampton’, as third lieutenant, in which he saw action at Cape St Vincent on 14 February 1797. In 1798 Broke was appointed to the frigate ‘Amelia’ in the Channel Fleet and then promoted commander on 2 January 1799 and appointed to the brig ‘Falcon’ and then the sloop ‘Shark’ in the North Sea under Lord Duncan. He was promoted captain on 14 February 1801 and was without a post for four years. In April 1805 he gained command in the frigate ‘Druid’ before moving to the ‘Shannon’, a 36-gun frigate, on 31 August 1806. Broke was employed protecting whalers of Spitsbergen and cruising the Bay of Biscay and the western approaches to Channel, seeing occasional action. The ‘Shannon’ was posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1811. War broke out between Great Britain and the United States on 18 June 1812. Broke used his time off the North American coast to train his crew to a high degree, especially in gunnery, where he employed target practice. In May 1813, off Boston, the ‘Shannon’ kept a close watch on the US frigate ‘Chesapeake’. This developed in an action on 1 June with Broke’s efficient crew able swiftly to overwhelm the Americans. Broke took ‘Shannon’ alongside the American frigate and, shouting ‘Follow me who can!’, boarded the ‘Chesapeake’ with fifty or sixty men. Broke was seriously wounded by a cutlass blow to the head, but the fighting was short-lived and, within fifteen minutes of the ‘Shannon’ first opening fire, British colours were raised on the captured ‘Chesapeake’. Broke was made a baronet on 3 November 1813 and KCB on 3 January 1815. The brilliant action against the ‘Chesapeake’ was both the high point and the end of his naval career. His head injury caused him health problems, which were aggravated by a fall from his horse; he died in London during a series of operations to relieve pressure on his brain.
Date made

Artist/Maker Lane, Samuel
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 984 mm x 722 mm x 40 mm; Painting: 935 x 678 x 22 mm
  • Captain Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, 1776-1841 (BHC2575)
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