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A half-length portrait of Captain William Locker, apparently as Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital, a role he held from 1793, when ill health forced him to give up service afloat, and in which he continued until his death in 1800.
Locker is best known as Nelson's first captain after he became a lieutenant in 1777. Nelson was also staying with him at Greenwich in 1797 when, through Locker's agency, Abbott came down to make the oil study upon which all his portraits of Nelson were based. There were reportedly over 40, of which the best known (‘Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, 1758–1805’, BHC2889) of 1800 became the first 'public' high-quality engraved image of Nelson other than the inferior print by Robert Shipster of 1797 from the earlier Rigaud portrait (‘Captain Horatio Nelson, 1758–1805’, BHC2901) – itself borrowed from Locker for the purpose, owing to public interest – after the Battle of St Vincent. It was also Locker's original suggestion, in 1795, that the Painted Hall of Greenwich Hospital be converted into a 'national gallery of naval art', an idea not then pursued but subsequently effected in 1823–1824 by his son Edward Hawke Locker, Secretary and a commissioner of the Hospital at that time.
oil on canvas
H 77.5 x W 64 cm