On the 21st October, 1805, off Cape Trafalgar, the British fleet under the command of Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson vanquished the combined fleets of France and Spain. The joy of victory was, however, compounded with sorrow when Nelson was killed by musket fire from the French Rédoutable.
During the conflict Nelson's flagship H.M.S. Victory was heavily damaged; moreover, as the battle subsided, the weather grew worse and by the evening of the 22nd a full gale was in force. Although great efforts were made to make the vessel seaworthy eventually Victory, bearing the body of Nelson, had to be towed to Gibraltar for repairs, first by Polyphemus and eventually by Neptune arriving on the 28th.
The exact appearance of Victory at this point has been the subject of dispute. Here the artist has eschewed the debate and chosen to depict the fleet flagship 'bloody but unbowed' leaving the darkness of storm and tragedy, heading towards light and hope.
Christie's are grateful to the artist for the notes which accompany this lot.