The Victory Obtained over the Dutch Fleet by the British Squadron of the North Sea under the Command of Admiral Duncan in the Action of 11 October 1797 [The Battle of Camperdown]
Engravingpublished April 1801
About the work
Place: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Whitehall
This dramatic scene shows the chaos of a naval engagement between British and Dutch fleets during the Battle of Camperdown. Crew members cling to fragments of wreckage in the sea while smoke billows as a result of cannon fire. The rigging and sails of ships are in disarray. Frantic activity of figures aboard the ships and breaking waves all around intensify the energy of the scene.
For two years, naval officer Adam Duncan blockaded the Texel (an island in the Netherlands used as a base by the Dutch Fleet). Rumours abounded that the Dutch would soon put to sea as an invasion force. When they finally sailed from Texel on 6th October 1797, Duncan set off from Yarmouth, reaching the Dutch Fleet off the North coast of Holland on 11th October, near the villages of Egmont and Camperdown. The Dutch were returning to base and may have sailed only as a display of national prestige. However, battle ensued with equal numbers of ships on each side. The long bloody engagement ended in a British victory, largely due to superior canons and gunnery. However, there were severe losses on each side. Nine Dutch ships were taken by the end of the engagement.
About the artist
London-born engraver James Fittler exhibited two sketches at the Free Society of Artists, aged 17. He studied engraving at the Royal Academy Schools from 21 and exhibited there between 1788 and 1824, becoming an associate in 1800. He was later appointed marine engraver to George III. He contributed to Boydell’s ‘Shakespeare Gallery’ and co-published ‘Views of Weymouth’ (1790-91) and (with Robert Bowyer) an illustrated bible (1795), losing some £1500 in the later venture. He published engravings for John Claude Nattes's ‘Scotia Depicta’ (1804) and made reproductions of Raphael's ‘Cartoons’ (1810). His last published works illustrated Thomas Frognall Dibdin's ‘Account of the Mansion, Books, and Pictures, at Althorp’ (1822). He died aged 77.
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.
- The Victory Obtained over the Dutch Fleet by the British Squadron of the North Sea under the Command of Admiral Duncan in the Action of 11 October 1797 [The Battle of Camperdown]
- published April 1801
- Purchased from Colnaghi, April 1952
- Collection of Prince Loewenstein; Liechenstein Collection; with Colnaghi, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in April 1952
- GAC number