In August of 1805, the combined French and Spanish fleets had taken refuge in the harbor of Cadiz, Spain where they were discovered by elements of the patrolling royal navy. Under Admiral Collingwood, the British ships quickly clamped shut the harbor with a blockade until October when Admiral Horatio Nelson was able to deploy his fleet a few miles to the south at a place known as Cape Trafalgar.
In this historically important painting by former midshipman Thomas Buttersworth, the entire combined fleet is shown bottled up in the harbor at Cadiz while the captured 46 gun frigate H.M.S. Amphitrite patrols offshore. A small blockade runner is shown to the right of the painting being fired upon by an armed British schooner.
Buttersworth painted throughout the Napoleonic wars, creating notably accurate historical scenes that also showed great artistic merit. This work combines his fine painterly skills and first hand technical knowledge. The detail of the harbor, the crew figures and particulars of the vessels are highlighted by a superb sea and sky, creating a painting of both visual appeal and epic significance.
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