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This is a small replica of the painting that Huggins executed for King William IV in 1837. It shows the position of the fleets at 4.30 on the evening of 21 October in a rising gale. Huggins had already done a pair of large paintings of Trafalgar for the King, shown at Exeter Hall in 1834. The prime version of this one, which is chronologically the middle of the three subjects, seems to have been a separate commission. It has now emerged that it is an oil copy, with very slight variations, of a watercolour by Lieutenant Paul Harris Nicolas (1790–1860), who served as a 2nd lieutenant on the 74-gun 'Belleisle' at Trafalgar and was also a younger brother of (Sir) Nicholas Harris Nicolas, later editor of Nelson's dispatches.
Nicolas is known to have done at least one other watercolour of the battle, showing the situation of the 'Belleisle' at 1pm but the dates of execution are not known. He became full lieutenant in July 1808, served at Basque Roads in 1810 and went on to half-pay in September 1814. He lived to receive the Naval General Sevice medal and also wrote a history of the Royal Marines.
oil on canvas
H 61 x W 84 cm