An impressive carved figure of Admiral Robert Blake that likely graced the bow of a ship bearing his name. Robert Blake (1598-1657) is known as the Father of the Royal Navy. Some historians and even Admiral Lord Nelson himself, felt that Blake was the greatest British Naval officer to have ever lived.
Blake is considered the founder of British Naval supremacy which outlasted him by several hundred years. He took England's navy from a handful of ships to well over a hundred- the largest the country had ever known. He also produced the Royal Navy's first set of rules and regulations, "The Laws of War and Ordinances of the Sea." He pioneered new techniques to conduct blockades and landings, writing a key treatise on naval warfare, "Sailing Instructions and Fighting Instructions" which were the first known use of single line ahead battle formation.
In Blake's time the rank of Admiral wasn't in use by the British Navy and he actually held the title of "General at Sea" - a higher rank that was a combination of Admiral and Commissioner of the Navy.
The most important period of Blake's service came during England's civil war and the following Interregnum- the period after the overthrow and execution of King Charles I. Blake was close to the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. Upon Blake's death Cromwell saw him buried with full honors in Westminster Abbey. However upon the Restoration- the return of the British Monarchy and the crowning of King Charles II, many prominent figures of the Parliamentary period were expunged from history books including Admiral Blake. Blake body was even removed from Westminster Abbey to a smaller church graveyard. His public fame waned but those who knew naval history, like Lord Nelson, remembered the man who had made England master of the seas.
Dressed in an ascot and waist coat with floral designs and buttons, his majestic long wig of curled ringlets is predominant, accented with his facial goatee and moustache. Serious effort has gone into the carving of this male figure, and fine, trace amounts of old paint and primer are evident with the majority of the surface having been stripped back to the natural grain of aged pine wood. The back is flush-flat, with the evident mount bolt-hole. This early, upright style of a figurehead would have been bracketed by the billets of a fighting ship prow at the bow stem.
A very rare early carving of an extraordinary figure in British history.
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