The war between Napoleon’s French navy and the naval forces of King George III of England lasted so long that the captured French prisoners had to find resourceful ways to spend their imprisonment, sometimes lasting more than eleven years. Though not treated like convicts, they were confined to the likes of prison hulks in naval dockyards, old castles, outdated fortresses, or purpose built prison camps such as Norman Cross or Dartmoor. On the encouragement of their captors, they formed their own quasi-artisan guilds to produce small objets d’art to sell in the camp’s periodic civilian open market.
One of the most popular objects sought by the English were the alluring ship models they created mostly representing, in a stylised form, British naval ships of the era. These were constructed from recycled cattle bone, boxwood and whale baleen.
The fine carving work and symmetric hull and deck planking exhibited on these models is remarkable, as well as the authenticity of their delicate linen or silk rigging.
The model is fitted with numerous details which include: anchors, capstan, gilt canons, a carved beak head, pin and fife rails, pierced and carved balcony railings, wood boats hoisted above the main deck, deck gratings, companionways, skylights and numerous other details all carved from either bone or ivory. The model is well rigged with three masts, standing and running rigging, bone turning blocks and deadeyes, rope bandings to the lower mast, dolphin stryker, and many other details.