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    Sale 7489

    Important Maritime Art

    31 October 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 31

    Thomas Luny (1759-1837)

    H.M.S. Arethusa in company with the frigates, Flora, Melampus, Concorde and Nymphe, engaging the French frigates L'Engageante, Résolue, Pomone and Babet off Guernsey, 23rd April 1794

    Price Realised  

    Thomas Luny (1759-1837)
    H.M.S. Arethusa in company with the frigates, Flora, Melampus, Concorde and Nymphe, engaging the French frigates L'Engageante, Résolue, Pomone and Babet off Guernsey, 23rd April 1794
    signed and dated 'Luny 1820.' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    24 x 34 in. (61 x 86.3 cm.)


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    Early on the morning of 23rd April 1794, a British squadron led by H.M.S. Flora and commanded by Commodore Sir John Borlase Warren, was cruising off the Channel Islands when it sighted three enemy warships. The French quickly formed a line-of-battle and the British frigates came up, one by one, to windward of them. Flora opened fire first at 6.30am. but almost immediately lost her maintopmast and was forced to retire from the action due to severely damaged rigging. Arethusa, Captain Sir Edward Pellew, after engaging the Babet, took Flora's place at the head of the squadron whilst both sides crowded on all sail - the French to escape and the British to pursue - for what was soon to become a prolonged running fight. Arethusa and Melampus captured Babet at 8.30am. whereupon Arethusa turned her guns onto the much larger Pomone which surrendered at 9.30am. Concorde and Melampus then pushed on after Résolue and L'Engageante, the latter striking her colours at 1.45pm. Through sheer good fortune Résolue was able to escape, but the three captured French frigates were all assimilated into the Royal Navy and proved useful additions to the fleet, most notably the 1,239 ton Pomone which proved particularly valuable in view of her powerful armament of 44-guns.

    Edward Pellew, later Viscount Exmouth, one of the greatest frigate captains of his time, was born in 1757, the son of Samuel Pellew, the commander of a Dover packet. Entering the Royal Navy in 1770, he served in the American War of Independence and, in 1793, captured the first French frigate of the Revolutionary War for which exploit he was knighted. Created a baronet for his gallantry in saving the crew and passengers of a transport wrecked in Plymouth Sound in 1796, the next year he achieved considerable fame for his daring frigate attack on the French 74-gun Droits de l'Homme which resulted in her complete destruction. Earning official recognition by preventing a mutiny in the Bantry Bay squadron in 1799, he was later promoted Rear-Admiral and Commander-in-Chief in the East Indies in 1804 where he destroyed the Dutch fleet in 1807. Subsequently Commander-in-Chief in both the North Sea (1810) and the Mediterranean (1811), he was appointed Admiral of the Blue in 1814 and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath the next year. Created Viscount after his success at Algiers in 1816, his last post was as Commander-in-Chief at Plymouth from 1817-21. Promoted Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom in 1832, he died the following year.

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    Provenance

    Anonymous Sale; Christie's, London, 14 July 1989, lot 40 (sold for £9,000).