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Thomas Buttersworth (fl. 1798-1827)

Thomas Buttersworth (fl. 1798-1827)

The Spanish Prizes captured after the Battle of Cape St Vincent off Lisbon

signed 'T. Buttersworth'; oil on canvas
33 x 56in. (83.7 x 142.2cm.)
United Services Club
Peter Padfield, Nelson's War, London, 1976, illus. opp. p. 140

Lot Essay

The British Mediterranean feelt, under the command of Admiral Sir John Jervis, defeated a much larger Spanish force off Cape St Vincent (on the southern tip of Portugal) on 14 February 1797. The battle was the first resounding naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars and was due, in no small part, to Nelson's daring for which he received his knighthood as well as promotion to Rear Admiral. When the action finally ceased in the late afternoon, Jervis found himself in possession of four extremely valuable prizes - the San Josef and the Salvador del Mundo, both three-deckers mounting 112 guns each, the San Nicholas, 80 guns, and the San Ysidor, 74 guns. Several other enemy vessels had also surrendered but with so many British ships badly damaged and thus unable to secure these smaller prizes, they subsequently escaped and rejoined the Spanish fleet which withdrew into Cadiz. The four captured ships-of-the-line were successfully escorted into the safety of the Tagus estuary, off Lisbon, and all were eventually refitted for service within the Royal Navy.


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