The 'Defence' at the Battle of the First of June, 1794

Image credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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An incident from the five-day battle known as the 'Glorious First of June 1794', during the French Revolutionary War, 1793–1802, between the British fleet under Lord Howe and the French fleet under Rear-Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse. This was the first great fleet battle of the French Wars of 1793–1815. It took place in the Atlantic, 400miles west of Ushant, when the French were attempting to intercept and escort home a valuable grain fleet from America and the British were also attempting to prevent this by capturing as much as possible. The consequent French manoeuvres allowed the British three days to position their fleet for the main attack. Although Villaret-Joyeuse helped ensured the safe passage of the French grain convoy (which neither fleet sighted) by drawing off Howe, he also had to try and minimize damage to his warships.

National Maritime Museum



The 'Defence' at the Battle of the First of June, 1794




oil on canvas


H 35.5 x W 50.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

National Maritime Museum (Greenwich Hospital Collection)

Work type



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