Considered a pinnacle artform of the ship modeling craft, bone ships made by French and Dutch prisoners captured and held by the British during the Napoleonic Conflict are among the most collectible maritime artifacts to be identified. This beautifully detailed model is of a British Second Rate Warship, so classified due to the number of guns it carried.
Unusually large, this model's length, nearly 30 inches, puts it in the largest class of prisoner of war models made. On deck the gunnels are carved in a fine geometric pattern with the nearby opening to the hold surrounded by a carved balustrade including the ship's bell tower. Looking down into the hold, the bone is carved to look like swagged fabric around the edge. Two small ladders up to the quarterdeck frame a unique carved balustrade that goes around the mizzenmast. There is a great amount of contrasting materials used in the model which creates great visual appeal including the model's base.
Innovations in the construction of sailing ships in the last half of the nineteen century, using knowledge gained primarily from French and American designs, allowed these large British sailing warships to be built stronger and faster. Their girder frameworks and advanced uses of knees, braces, and other structural improvements meant bigger ships capable of greater power and speed. Suddenly the option of distant blockades of enemy ports became a naval warfare practicality, and the British did it more often than any other nation. 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 today.
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