The infamous Barbary Corsairs based in the North African city of Algiers and enjoying its protection had terrorised the western Mediterranean for centuries. With the ending of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Britain and her principal maritime ally, Holland, resolved not only to rid themselves of this scourge but also to release those Christian slaves held there in captivity, many of them since the beginning of the wars with France. A large Anglo-Dutch fleet of over twenty-five warships was assembled under the command of Admiral Lord Exmouth and, making for Algiers, subjected the city to a merciless ten-hour bombardment on 27th August 1816. This lasted well into the night but the city eventually surrendered and over 1,200 enslaved prisoners were liberated.
This view of the bombardment, almost certainly painted by an eye-witness to the event, provides a novel perspective which is markedly different to the very well-known compositions of Luny, Pocock, Whitcombe and their fellow artists.
For more details of the events leading up to the bombardment, see the notes accompanying lot 788 in this catalogue.