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William Ranwell

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 William Ranwell
English, (fl.1830-1843)


Pen & Ink with Whiting Out On Paper  Circa 1841 
21 x 29 ½ Inches  29 ½ x 38 ½ Inches Framed 
Signed LC: W. Ranwell 

In what is Ranwell’s most widely known image, as it was reproduced as an engraving the year following its completion by T. Pickens of London, he captured the significant launching of the last of the St. George-class First Rate, H.M.S. TRAFALGAR, on June 21st, 1841. This original work unveils magnificent details of the event.

As notice went out in the community days before the event that Queen Victoria, the royal consort and their entourage would be in attendance, and the ship would be one of the largest in history brought off the ways of the Woolwich yard, thousands of people pre-purchased tickets to the event. As well, a slew of sailing and steam ships crowded with passengers tucked into the modest river harbor to catch the spectacular view. it is reported that among the ships present were the WILLIAM & MARY Royal Yacht, the steamers SALAMANDER, LONDON, GREENWICH, GRAVESEND, LEITH SCOTCH, and the Marquis of Anglesea’s PEARL YACHT. The artist faithfully captures the immense nature of the event and crowd present, naming additional yachts and highlighting the Queen’s appearance and presence beneath the arches before the bow with her bright white dress and the royal seal-of-state above.

TRAFALGAR, carrying 120 guns herself, launched with a barrage of artillery into an era of unprecedented British peace. First ordered in 1825, the ship’s keel was laid in 1829. After 12 years the 205.5’ length ship of 2693 tons was brought about to sail. She would be converted to steam power in 1859, and would be renamed H.M.S. BOSCAWEN in 1873 when she took duty as a cadet training ship in Southampton and Portland. A truly historic moment captured by an artist concerned as well with the fine aesthetics of his trade. The work must be viewed at length to truly appreciate the exact details of period clothing and proportionate scale as well as the fine detailed of the ships.

Please click here for a short William Ranwell biography.

For more information about Ranwell's "The Launch of HMS TRAFALGAR ", please send us an email at

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