Well represented by her Trojan warrior figurehead of the Grecian demi-god, L'Hercule is a 74-gun French warship with a brief, violent career. Undoubtedly some of her captured crew were instrumental in the creation of this beautiful scale representation Napoleonic Carved Bone Ship Model within a British war prison. L'HERCULE fought an epic battle on her maiden voyage in 1798, only 24 hours after leaving her home port of Lorient on the Brittany Coast. Facing action in the Naval Battle of Raz de Sein on April 21, L'HERCULE was pursued by an equally armed British Third Rate, H.M.S. MARS. Off Brest, the two ships battled in close conflict for one-and-one-half hours, with the British eventually victorious and capturing L'HERCULE, whose officers recorded that they had 290 men killed or wounded, to 91 of the Brits. Once captured, L'HERCULE quickly became H.M.S. HERCULE, and well served the British Royal Navy for several years.
Premium artifacts of this era, carved bone ships made by prisoners during the Napoleonic Conflict are among the most collectible maritime artifacts to be identified. This exceptionally detailed French Tremaire Class Warship is a beautiful and delicate model. It has a sharp three-masted ship's rig, and many original lines. The Ship-of-the-Line shows an exceptional amount of custom carvings, especially the elaborate quarter galleries and the ornate polychrome painted warrior figurehead. The use of baleen and wood for the rails and gunwales is an artistic take on this special model. Two mermen figures decorate the stern board carving, while a serpent swirls near the foot of the Hercules figurehead on the prow.
Beautifully detailed and proportioned, the model is in fantastic condition. The hull is finely pinned and accent striped in red, with two gun decks of 15 and 14 cannon per side, plus 8 top-deck guns show, with six "chase" barrels arraigned throughout the captain's quarters at the stern. The three square rigged masts have traditional platforms with polychrome, and details such as the capstan and deck barrels are uniquely painted as well.. The ship is complete as it rests on its original ornate diamond checkerboard base of boxwood with red posts, all set under a quality mahogany and glass case.
Navies of the 18th & 19th Centuries were often augmented by captured ships, and the French and British claimed trophies into their respective forces quite frequently. The prisoner-artisans involved in the creation of this fine model - no doubt a team of experienced sailors and craftsmen with their individual personal experiences with carving, rigging and ship construction - would still be proud of this fine surviving nautical antique of L'HERCULE, with her French flag at the hoist.
Overall Model Dimensions: 11½ Inch Length with a 9 Inch Height
Hull Measures 8½ Inches at the Waterline
Oval Glass Case Dimensions: 14½ x 5⅝ with a Height of 11⅝ Inches
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