Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.

John Travers Cornwell (1900–1916), Boy 1st class

Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

How you can use this image

This image can be used for non-commercial research or private study purposes, and other UK exceptions to copyright permitted to users based in the United Kingdom under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised. Any other type of use will need to be cleared with the rights holder(s).

Review the copyright credit lines that are located underneath the image, as these indicate who manages the copyright (©) within the artwork, and the photographic rights within the image.

The collection that owns the artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

Review our guidance pages which explain how you can reuse images, how to credit an image and how to find images in the public domain or with a Creative Commons licence available.


Add or edit a note on this artwork that only you can see. You can find notes again by going to the ‘Notes’ section of your account.

This painting was part of an intended series of portraits of Victoria Cross holders commissioned from McEvoy, a fashionable society portrait painter who was also a war artist. He worked from photographs but found the task daunting and it was never completed. Cornwell was a 16-year-old gun sight-setter on HMS ‘Chester’. When the ship went into action at the Battle of Jutland (31 May 1916) all his gun crew were killed or wounded but Cornwell remained at his post despite fatal injuries. His portrait became the icon for this complex and ambiguous battle which, on balance, the British won but of which Churchill remarked that Admiral Jellicoe could also ‘have lost the war in an afternoon’. Cornwell was a perfect example to small boys on how to serve their country, and to those adults who had failed to recognize the importance of duty and self sacrifice at a time of mass unionization, strikes and suffragette protest.

National Maritime Museum



oil on canvas


H 50.8 x W 40.6 cm

Accession number


Work type



You can help us tag artworks on Tagger. The tags above come from the public, and also from an image recognition project run by the Visual Geometry Group, University of Oxford.

National Maritime Museum

Romney Road, Greenwich, London, Greater London SE10 9NF England

This venue is open to the public. Not all artworks are on display. If you want to see a particular artwork, please contact the venue.
View venue