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 is an interpretation of the first major fleet battle of the French Revolutionary War, 1793–1801. The French admiral, Rear-Admiral Louis-Thomas Villaret-Joyeuse, had sailed from Brest to intercept a grain fleet from America, vitally needed in famine-stricken France. The English commander-in-chief, Lord Howe, sailed with the Channel Fleet to intercept the convoy, which neither side encountered. Instead the two battle fleets made contact on 28 May, 365 nautical miles off Ushant, Brittany. In the opening engagement Howe disabled the three-decker 'Révolutionnaire'. On 29 May he cut the French line to leeward and for the next two days the fleets manoeuvred in fog until Howe brought the French to full action and defeat on 1 June approximately 225 nautical miles further west. Six French ships of the line were taken and one sunk.
The struggle between the two flagships locked in battle dominates the centre of the composition. The human concerns fill the foreground, with the theme of compassion to the defeated enemy. A swirling sea plucks at the French sailors who cling to the floating wreckage, while from small boats determined-looking British seamen pull their enemies to safety.
oil on canvas
H 266.5 x W 373.5 cm
National Maritime Museum (Greenwich Hospital Collection)