This is a scene from the Battle of Abukir, the second battle of the French campaign in Egypt and Syria, fought between French General Friant and British Commander Sir Ralph Abercromby. It represents the moment Abercromby landed his troops at Abu Qir Bay in Egypt.
Abercromby, as Commander of British troops in the Mediterranean, restocked provisions and practised landing procedures, before the fleet sailed for Abu Qir Bay, arriving on 2 March 1801. Adverse weather conditions delayed the attack until 8 March but on that day 14,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry and 600 gunners were ferried ashore in a single day.
Hopes of a surprise attack were lost and the British sustained heavy losses during the disembarkation. The British nonetheless advanced to Alexandria, where a fierce battle was fought on 13 March, with the French sustaining some 3,000 casualties in contrast to 1,376 British casualties. One of these was Abercromby himself, who was struck in the thigh by a musket ball. He died as a result of the wound on 28 March.
Philip James de Loutherbourg, was born in Germany, the son of a miniaturist and engraver. The family moved to Paris in 1755 where he studied with Carle Van Loo and Jean-Georges Wille, before entering the studio of François Joseph Casanova. He left Paris in 1768 to travel through France, Switzerland and the Rhineland. In 1771 he arrived in London, where David Garrick gave him control of the scenery at Drury Lane Theatre. He remained at the theatre when Sheridan took over. In 1781, he became a member of the Royal Academy. He travelled throughout the UK on sketching tours and began painting naval victories in the 1790s. In 1807 he was made Historical Painter to the Duke of Gloucester. He died in Hammersmith, aged 71.
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