This well portrayed narrative by the 19th century British artist O.W. Briely captures the strict performance of the British naval forces. Teams of ordinary seamen work onboard the second-rate steam/sail warship of 91-guns and at the oars of the large-bore gunboats. Sails are being loosened along the bowsprit length and at the top-sails. The red-jacketed marines stiffly hold their firearms vertically parallel and face aft, as able bodied seamen tend the ordinance at the bow of each of the four visible boats: note the crew which is packing their muzzle loaded cannon. The distant headland hold the dockyard ways of the naval yards of Spithead, the eastern shore of channel between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The artist signed and dated the work, but his name is mostly illegible. Due to some remarkable outside research, a period hand-colored lithograph is known to exist of this painting, with proper attribution and title. The accomplishments on canvas easily confirm the quality of the hand which performed the work, which displays a strong technical knowledge for the naval aspects, and a cultivated understanding of the subtle effects of the patterns from the objects in motion on the surface of the water. A historic ship , she was the first steam powered warship of the British fleet. Agamemnon’s details of her sharp wooden hull and sail surface depth are excellent. A large gilt bust of her namesake, a Greek king of Mycenae who fought the Trojans is mounted forward, overseeing the maneuvers. The 230' long warship was built in 1852, during the peace of Queen Victoria’s reign, and is memorable for its place in the naval arms race with France. The ship was involved in the first attempt to lay a trans-atlantic communication cable in 1857 and the first success in 1858 in concert with the American ship NIAGARA.
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