William Stuart (fl.mid-19th Century)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION 
William Stuart (fl.mid-19th Century)

Trafalgar: Almost the end of the day, with victory assured

Details
William Stuart (fl.mid-19th Century)
Trafalgar: Almost the end of the day, with victory assured
signed, inscribed and dated 'W Stuart 1857/22 Arbour Sqr -/Stepney -' (lower right)
oil on canvas, in a carved and gilded frame
55 x 99 in. (139.7 x 251.5 cm.)
See front cover illustration, detail
Provenance
James Bishop, Esq., Mayor of Southampton, 1885 and thence by descent.

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Lot Essay

In the second of these two grandiose compositions, William Stuart depicts Victory late in the action but still engaged on her port side. Ahead of her, wallowing in the gathering swell, are the two biggest Spanish ships, Santa Ana, the 112-gun flagship of Vice-Admiral de Alava, and the huge Santisima Trinidad; both are shown dismasted and wearing prize colours having surrendered earlier in the afternoon. Other enemy ships can be seen dismasted and helpless on all sides but still Victory fights on, even as Nelson lies dying below decks. The sense of defeat for the enemy is palpable however, and the viewer senses that once the central mêlée has been resolved, victory is not only assured but the guns can fall silent at last.

William Stuart is presumed to be the father of William E.D. Stuart (see E.H.H. Archibald's Dictionary of Sea Painters) although the relationship remains somewhat enigmatic. It is confirmed however that both lived at Manor House, Stepney along with Mrs. William Stuart and Miss Stuart, both of whom also painted and exhibited at the British Institution during the 1850s. In the published catalogue of that establishment, where the numerous exhibits of all four Stuarts are recorded, it is noted that W.E.D. Stuart showed a very large panorama of Trafalgar (4 feet x 6.9 feet) in 1848, the success of which might well have prompted commissions for the two slightly later works offered in this catalogue.
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