Little is known of Anton Schranz, until he settled in Minorca, where he flourished as a painter of views of Port Mahon, a Mediterranean stronghold for the Royal Navy for most of the 18th Century.
A magnificent and highly successful ship throughout her long life, H.M.S. Caledonia was laid down in Plymouth Dockyard in January 1805 and launched on 25 June 1808. Built under the direction of Joseph Tucker, to a design by Sir William Rule, she was originally intended to carry 100 guns but was modified whilst on the stocks to mount 120 guns. As such, she was only the second vessel of the fleet to be so impressively armed and was the largest warship ever constructed for the navy at the time of her completion.
First commissioned as flagship to Admiral Lord Gambia, she was soon in action when, on 12 April 1809, she played a pivotal role in the destruction of the French fleet lying in the Basque Roads, off St. Nazaire. The Royal Navy's long blockade of the French ports was a tedious business and Caledonia was still stationed off the Basque Roads on 24 February 1811 when she was struck by lightning and had to return to Portsmouth for a new mast. In June 1811 she became flagship to Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, later Lord Exmouth, after which she spent three years in the Mediterranean for the duration of his tenure there as Commander-in-Chief. During this period she was present at the surrender of the fortress at Genoa in April 1814 prior to returning home where she was laid up due to the final ending of hostilities with France. The present depiction of Caledonia appears to date from 1811-1814, during her first period in the Mediterranean, as she is shown with her original square stern which was modified quite early in her career when rounded sterns were adopted. Not commissioned again until 1830, she included two further terms in the Mediterranean, until she was finally withdrawn from sea service in the early 1850s.
Schranz painted a number of views of Port Mahon which incorporated depictions of the flagship H.M.S. Caledonia. A pair of similar paintings, with almost identical measurements, were sold at Christie's London, 21 November 1975, lot 43.